We’ll Always Have Boxes, and Memories
By Holly Kennedy
Someone told me that moving out of your home into a smaller space is called ‘rightsizing’, not ‘downsizing’. Whatever the terminology, it still requires a deep dive into the past in order to face the future. If you have even the remotest of packrat tendencies like me, moving out of the house where you raised a family and lived for close to 27 years, saving virtually everything along the way, creates quite the trip down memory lane. While I was prepared for rightsizing our lives, I was not as prepared when it came to deciding which memories to box up and take with us.
There is no right way to downsize memories. I started by hiring a few guys to empty the attic of all the items I had carefully stored, organized, labeled, and categorized for some future use. Coming from a long line of ancestors who saved, I had clearly inherited their genes. It took two days to empty the attic, since everything had to be carried down a set of pull-down stairs. My cherished memory-filled items from the attic now overflowed the living and dining rooms. That future date when I was going to lovingly sort through the past was now staring me in the face, and it was daunting.
Memories came flooding back. I had saved the infant and toddler clothing, matching brother-sister outfits for every holiday and in every size, reminding me that my adult children had once been small and adorable and dressed in matching coordinated outfits! I had proof.
The sort began. Toys, American Girl dolls and their paraphernalia, a horse barn, two dollhouses, a sewing machine, school papers and art projects, children’s books, camp trunks, Halloween costumes, holiday décor, children’s furniture, a puppet theater, the sign we had made after one notorious water event stating emphatically “No Wake Zone”, and stuff our parents had saved and sent to us and we still had — the college IBM Selectric typewriter, my Barbie dollhouse, my husband’s GI Joes and Battleship game, a movie projector.
Where had the time gone? We moved into our Mendota Avenue home in Indian Village on May 1, 1991, after stints in Los Angeles and Larchmont. Back then we were the new kids on the block, with an 18-month-old and a four-pound preemie newborn. Friends who were second-generation Rye encouraged us to move here, and, luckily, I had signed our 18-month-old up for swim lessons at the Rye YMCA. One of the mothers I met was walking back to her house in Indian Village, so I followed her to ask where it was. I wanted to be able to walk home from town like her.
Twenty minutes later, with wet hair and a damp toddler in tow, I was knocking at the door of the house for sale down the street from my new acquaintance. It was love at first sight and the rest is history. Decades of Halloween parades and window painting; birthdays, block parties, Easter egg hunts, lemonade stands, BBQs, Cub Scouts, Brownie Scouts, Rye School of Dance, School and Science fairs, endless soccer games, a YMCA-sponsored gymnastic trip to Romania, and our Indian Village School bus are some of the wonderful memories we have of raising our family in Rye. It’s a blur of activities and fun with family and friends.
The tangible memories stored in the attic beckoned. What to do with the life- size Styrofoam-backed self-portrait cutout that each child traced when they were 4-year-olds at Christ’s Church Nursery School? Do I keep the clay statue of an Egyptian cat that my son made for 6th-grade social studies? What about the tin-foil creatures each child created in art class in elementary school, and the woodcut projects from middle school? Trophies anyone? The Beanie Babies, stuffed animals, Harry Potter books, and prom dresses? Ribbons from horse shows too numerous to count? The T-shirts from each child’s 5th-grade musical at Midland and Osborn. Years of Christmas cards showing our friends and neighbors growing from toddlers to teens to engaged.
Using the mantra from the author who advises “Ask does it bring you joy?”, I started talking to my belongings. Some brought me joy, some had to go. It was literally a two-month-long conversation. Now that the movers are about to arrive, I’m still talking…there is so much that brings me joy.
Our kids are grown and flown. Our 18-month-old is now almost 29, the newborn 27. Our youngest will be 25 this fall. Two have jobs on the West Coast, in Seattle and San Francisco, the other is serving in the Peace Corps in Africa. There are no indications they plan to return. We visit them more often than they come back to Indian Village, where we made so many happy memories.
It was time for us to rightsize for the next chapter, but we’re definitely bringing along a lot of boxes.
Thanks for the memories.