This autumn has been declared the Season of Decluttering at our house, and I’ve been sorting through boxes and bags of stuff trying to winnow down the crap-ton of my stuff into a mere mountain’s worth. Along the way, I’ve found a few interesting artifacts – ones that triggered memories of places visited, fortunes lost, and friendships long shelved.
In rummaging through my closet to pull out boxes of books to sort, I discovered a large, black trash bag. Inside was a trove of commemorative shirts from conventions, and displaying hobbies and interests – some of which I still enjoy. There’s the American Civil War Iron Brigade commemorative shirt, bought years ago. It’s an extra-large, a pleasing shade of blue, and still fits, so I’m keeping it. Lots of shirts from the days when there was a comics distributor here in Madison, and save for collectors of such ephemera, of no interest any longer. My collection of Pegasus Games shirts has mostly worn out, but I did find one in this sack commemorating a sidewalk sale that took place one summer in Madison’s State Street shopping district. I’m not sure I ever even wore it, but it doesn’t fit me any more so away it goes.
I also found a stack of shirts from Corflu, (https://corflu.org/) a fanzine fan convention I used to attend regularly and enthusiastically. T and I often planned our vacation times for the year around where and when Corflu would take place. Hosting Corflu was bid on by interested groups, so it was never in the same place two years in a row (T and I even hosted once, in 2003.) It was held in the UK and Canada once or twice, but mostly it’s a US-based event. We enjoyed attending, but gradually we lost interest. For me, it was largely because I felt a lot of work put in by some attendees was going unnoticed – particularly the year that T set up a permanent web site for the convention that is largely still in use today (though doubtless with modifications, patches, and upgrades.) A group of friends and fellow Corflu attendees from Seattle – led by the late Randy Byers – bought T and I a very nice dinner to thank her for it – which was much appreciated – but I began to feel that really, Corflu was about celebrating older fans, and had been from the start something of an old-boys club. I had a number of good friends amongst that crowd at one time, most of whom I don’t see any more. The majority of those friends moved far away, a few passed on, and in one or two cases we just drifted out of each others’ orbits and never returned. I don’t exactly feel missed; to be fair, I’ve rarely gone out of my way to keep in touch, either. T and I were planning to visit Seattle in August to see some of these friends again; Covid changed all that.
I think the best thing I can do with my Corflu shirts is donate them to the Corflu auction, so that friends and fans can obtain them for their own collections. If it raises a few dollars to help support the convention, so much the better.
Weeding out books is much more of an ordeal. I find I’m reluctant to part with many, even if I’ve read them. I have a decent collection of autographed books from many years attending sci-fi conventions, and those I can’t bear to part with. I’d been something of a book pack-rat for years, even keeping non-fiction books in the event they might come in handy; perhaps I was thinking of using the knowledge within them to rebuild after the apocalypse or something. I don’t recall exactly why, so those are easier to get rid of now. Anyway, the consequences of that acquisitiveness is that I now need to find new homes for them. My middle-aged back is not grateful for these excesses of my youth, let me assure you.
All this walking down memory lane is tiring – or maybe it’s moving boxes of books. Sometimes it’s difficult to tell the difference.