What We Leave Behind
It’s the end of fall semester of my junior year, and I’m standing back in the room I grew up in, 3,000 miles away from my dorm. Setting down my bags, I look around and see all of the possessions I left behind when I went off to college: my collection of fantasy books, each signed by the author; the random indie print comics I found at local comic and game stories; the clothes that I couldn’t justify bringing an extra suitcase for. Most of my collections have been packed into boxes and stored in the closet where I’d usually put my clothes. A few items, mostly art from school (such as the zombie hand I molded from my own) remain on the shelves. It exists, now, as a room full of memories that had to be packed away so I could pursue my education.
But what about the mementos we can’t bring ourselves to get rid of or part with? The only collections I could afford to bring with me from home were all digital in nature: video games, shows, books, and more were tucked away in a drive that can pass through airport security in a small side pocket. Such is the benefit of living in the digital age.
Collecting and storing physical things is in and of itself not a bad practice. It allows us to curate and display belongings we appreciate in life. My earliest memories of comic collection involve finding boxes of my older brother’s edgy ‘90s Marvel comics in a damp box shoved away in the attic. If he hadn’t kept those ridiculous holographic issues, and my parents had at any point thrown them away, I may have never developed my own appreciation of them.
There is, however, a thin line between collecting and hoarding, especially when considering the amount of space the average college student has. We all have a variety of projects and necessities that begin to crowd up our space in lieu of personal decoration. It becomes harder to justify the cost and space of bringing our collections back and forth as time goes on. Despite that, some students find a way through shipping and storage lockers. What might seem like a hassle to some is worth it to others. For me, the 3,000 mile difference was too far to bring much more than the basics. For others, it might be worth it to be surrounded by reminders of home instead of storing them away.
The happiest medium that most of my friends and I could find was compromise: bringing what we most immediately treasured with us but leaving the rest behind. Instead of dragging everything I already owned with me, I found new memories to fill the space in my room. My collection would still be waiting for me, while I had the opportunity to enjoy starting new ones.
Art by Jos Bronner