COLUMN: Pack rats of the future: Choose your junk wisely

Ryan deBiase

I have recently engaged in taking an inventory of all the material stuff in my life. I realized that most of it has been around for a long time. All my furniture is either a remnant from my childhood, like my 20-year-old bed, or a trash-picked item made to resemble furniture, like my milk crate bookshelf. More or less, nothing in my life has any real (financial) worth.

Such does not really bother me because I am in college and naturally do not have any money to buy new stuff, so my old crappy furniture will suffice for now. Appropriately, my bedroom is adorned with wrinkled and torn posters and its closet overflows with miscellaneous crap.

I’m a pack rat, apparently.

Pack rats are often thought of as dirty, unorganized people. For the most part, I fit that description, but I cannot agree that I cling to insignificant stuff needlessly. One never knows when a Halloween costume from two years ago will come in handy, or if a future home will ever be found for the shoe box full of snap shots from high school.

Then again, by being a pack rat, one chooses not to look to the future.

I recall rummaging through the attic at my parents’ house and discovering a cardboard box with some miscellaneous high school memorabilia inside. It contained the usual yearbooks, address books, letter jacket, graduation cap and scattered pictures one would expect to find in such a time capsule. Outside of these requisite pack rat items, not much else was to be found from their young adulthood.

I was basically digging through four years of my parents’ life. Their stuff did not differ from that which I would expect to find in any other middle-aged person’s crawl space.

This got me thinking about my own pack rat-ness and the nature of materialism.

Materialism never really appealed to me. I try to cherish my old stuff so I won’t have to purchase new stuff. As stated before, everything I own is outwardly worthless, but all contains some emotional value, some intrinsic worth.

Yet, consider how many middle-aged people still hoard tons of trinkets from their childhood: very few, decidedly.

It seems that at some point in early adulthood, presumably when we graduate college, begin a career and become “successful,” we undoubtedly shed all the bits of our past that had defined us. Making a decent amount of income would make this trimming a bit easier, became one would possess the funds to replace the old stuff with gleaming new stuff from Ikea.

In the end, materialism killed the pack rat.

Still, there always remain a few miscellaneous fragments of the pack rat, contained in some cardboard box in the attic that our children will stumble across in ten or twenty years. It will be our little time capsule for four (or five or six) years of our lives hoarding those requisite pieces of college memorabilia.

Allow me to pose a question to my fellow pack rats. If you could fit all your college memories into just one cardboard box to be stuffed into the attic, what would make the trip, and what would be left behind?

Ryan deBiase is a senior English major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].