My aunt died in 97. This summer my brother, who now owns her flat, started to clean out the flat, throw away huge amounts of shoes, candy boxes and old spices. I saved some books for myself, and now have about four new metres of books to read. My wild frenzy of helping my brother throw away stuff went like this: I opened all sorts of drawers, looked at the stuff inside, threw the things that we didn't need anymore on the floor and opened the next drawer. My brother's girlfriend cleaned up after me. In this wild frenzy I found, amongst other things, a box of letters from a French penpal my aunt had written to from 1964 to 1972. It amazed me that they had written to each other for so long.
We threw all the letters away, except for one. It was the first one my aunt had received from her penpal, and which included a photo of the then about 10-year-old girl, who now must be around 60.
Every summer, during the holidays, I thoroughly clean out my room and throw away whatever I don't need anymore. I always end up with some more space that I can fill over the coming year. This year, the only thing that got thrown away were some letter from my penpals - a girl who had lived next to me and moved to America upon her parents' divorce; my Canadian exchange student; and a French guy whose address I had got from an online penpale database, but who apparently had never added it there (he was surprised to get a letter from a strange Austrian girl, but nice enough to always reply anyway).
I only kept one letter from my mother in which she told me ten times to take care of myself (written to me when I had spent three weeks in England over the summer).
I have four pillow on my bed. An ordinary one that any bed has. A 'healthy' one that is supposed to put my neck into a good position, but - in my opinion - only puts it into a comfortable enough position to sleep, not a healthy one. A cuddly one, with fur, of which a friend said it wouldn't last a year (we're in year two so far, I believe).
And an old one. It's not really a pillow. I got it when I was four years old. It was part of those cribs that you get for dolls. At the bottom of the crib, below the proper, nice sheets with patterns, there was this pillow. Small, white, just a few layers of cloth, really. I named it 'Windel', which is German and means 'diaper'. That's what it's always been. I don't know where the name came from, I don't remember to even have named it. My only pillow with a name, which wasn't really a pillow.
I took it with me whenever I spent several nights away from home - scout camps, the three-week trip to England, the year in Oxford. It wasn't even comfortable to sleep on, since it wasn't a pillow. But sometimes it came in handy. It didn't take up much space, but if I folded it to a quarter of its size, I could have my head in a comfortable enough position to fall asleep (and then have it roll off the pillow while I slept). That was only really necessary on scout camps, though. For the other trips, I guess I just took it with me because it had become a tradition.
Some weeks ago I looked at the pillow, instead of just grabbing it and sleeping on it. The cloth had ripped in several places, and its colour resembled yellow rather than white. I told my mother, and she said it's probably time to throw it away (well, she actually said she knew and when changing the sheets the next time she'd throw it away).
Today, being semi-incapatitated by a cold, I looked at it again. I saw the ripped cloth, the colour, and with a sigh I took the ripped strands of the cloth and tugged at them until the first layer of cloth had completely come off. Lo and behold, under it the cloth was as white as ever. Without the remains of the ripped parts and single threads poking out, it would have looked like it had 18 years ago.
Still, after it had served me well for 18 years, I decided it was time to release it to its deserved retirement into the wastebin.
And that's how it is.
You put all your memories into boxes, and when it's convenient for you, you throw them away.