I flew to rural Northwest Illinois last week, to visit my childhood house and stomping grounds for perhaps the last time. My parents, who had settled there for two decades, are moving several states westward to a house in the city. Pulling up those kind of stakes is an opportunity to realize just how much junk can accumulate without careful curation.
Nerdishness, it turns out, is genetic. The pack rat tendency may be a learned behaviour, but the hereditary effect is the same. Combine the two and the offspring will look something like this:
The decades of collecting and the two days of extraction and disposal were a team effort between my dad and me. I’m sure there were some gems in all that junk, but that will be for the salvage yard to figure out. This necessary catharsis might not have cured either of us of our collecting habits, but it was a healthy step in the right direction. The whole week, Dad kept singing a chorus about the freedom we find from the Things We Leave Behind; I felt like I was Mourning the Death of a Dream instead. Dad’s choice of Michael Card song was more appropriate, but the components and computers we did keep still carry kernels of nerdish dreams.