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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Objects, sentimentality and letting go

I have never really understood thrifting in America. The idea that passing down objects from one person to another was commercialized felt inherently wrong to me when I got here. This isn’t to say that resale markets don’t exist in Pakistan, but that there is a strong attachment to the things that are yours, and sanctity attached to the act of giving those personal items to another person.

There is a wall in my room, right next to my bed, that is absolutely plastered with sentimental objects. Scraps of the Carletonian in issues I’ve written for, ribbons from dance competitions, the notes that accompany Friday flowers and pictures of friends and family from back home. There are two other storage boxes underneath my bed dedicated to the items I did not have the space or energy to put up, filled to the brim with more objects that I deeply cherish. As my roommates consistently point out, I have very irrational attachments to some of them. A programme from a choir performance that made me cry, a printed card from my A&I on philosophy about living the good life and an actual playing card from last year’s Rocky Horror Picture Show. By themselves, these objects are just cardstock with some words on them, and copies of these exist in the thousands if not the millions. I could probably make them myself if I ever found the time to, but that’s not why I keep them. It doesn’t really matter to me if there are other copies of those items. 

There is a car back in Pakistan. It is old now, the paint on the silver hood resembling an open metal sore on its surface. The interior has been changed three times now. The engine has stopped working on so many occasions that we have stopped counting. It is no longer a question of if it needs repairs but how long we can delay the trip to the mechanic. I got a call sometime last year from my mother about the possibility of getting a new one. The first words that left my lips, without me even thinking for a moment, were “What about the old one?”. The car had seen me through all of my schooling in Pakistan, to all my debate tournaments and through my parent’s divorce and separation. There were so many laughs, cries, moments and memories held within that metal box, that to sell it off would be akin to selling off a dear family member. It’s hard to explain, try as I may.

There was a stack of video games I once owned. A lot of my pocket money went to buying new games to play on my old rinky-dink PS4. Hours spent carefully browsing the game store, haggling over prices with the old shop clerk and then excitedly rushing back home to tear open the thin plastic cover and unlock the experiences hidden within that flat disk. When I went back to Pakistan last winter break, I realized that I would never play them again. I did not have the time or space at Carleton to do so. I didn’t really have anyone to give them to either. I was stuck. I didn’t want to leave them to gather dust in some random closet of my home, but what was I to do? I went back and forth and back and forth with myself. I rationally knew that the best chance my games had of being used again was to resell them, but it was something that still unsettled me deeply. Things should be given away for love, not money. But it was the only way I could get rid of them. I took the long walk to my favorite game store and hoped some brat with too little money got to experience the joys I once did. 

There is a tie in my closet. There were people in my family who did not want me to have it after my grandfather passed away. They wanted to keep it in his old closet exactly as it was, never to be worn again and forever tucked away in a dark corner. I understood the emotion behind it, to preserve what once was, so that in some small way things are the way they used to be. With my grandmother’s permission, I took a few of his ties to America with me. I wear them for special occasions, an interview or speaking event, and when I do wear it I feel as though I carry a part of him with me in an unfamiliar place. I look at it sometimes, and for a second I am reminded that he isn’t here anymore. He hasn’t been for a while, but I feel as though it would be a tragedy to leave his things unused to rot in an unseen place. There is something about wearing his ties that lets me let go and move a little closer to acceptance. Objects are not just objects; they are the memories and emotions surrounding them too. To throw something away carelessly and without taking care to ensure that it is still loved is to throw away a part of yourself contained within it. 

It is hard for me to get rid of all the sentimental trinkets that I have accumulated just over my stay at Carleton. Ribbons from dance competitions, notes from Friday Flowers, readings from my favorite classes and posters that were going to be thrown away all have a place in my memorabilia bin. I have things from people I don’t see much anymore. A quick smile is all we share now, really. Life gets in the way, winding us down different paths, but I’ll always have something to keep with me to remember the times we did have together that is tangible, touchable, proof that we shared joy and happiness with each other. While I move on to make new memories and connections, maybe I don’t have to let go of everything that reminded me of good times.

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About the Contributor
Rahim Hamid
Rahim Hamid, Viewpoint Editor
I write, I debate, I bike, I lie, I true, I draw and program and dance and all the rest. Say hi and don’t be a stranger! Rahim is a sophomore and previously wrote for the Viewpoint Section.

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