In general, I’ve never been much of a collector. I think I just have too short of an attention span to stay interested in a collection for long. I guess some people would count clothes/jewelry/shoes as a collection, but I don’t. When I think of a collection, I think of something that comes in a series, like books, or things where a bunch of different models of that item are made and people strive to own all the different varieties, like coins, stamps, beanie babies, baseball cards, or action figures. I actually did collect shot glasses for while when I was doing a lot of traveling -I’d buy one in each place I visited. Then, during a move, I had to wrap them all individually in newspaper. That officially ended my collection.
I also think of collections as being worth some money – that by spending all that money and time to acquire those items, the payoff is owning something that is hopefully enjoyable AND valuable. Otherwise, what’s the point? I suppose some people would argue that just acquiring those items is pleasurable enough, and I kind of understand that, but mostly I just think, “what a waste.”
I did, however, for a brief time when I was a pre-teen, collect Sweet Valley High books. I LOOOOOVED the Sweet Valley High series. Oh, the dramatic adventures of the beautiful, blonde, California-dwelling Wakefield twins! Dating! Dances! Cheerleading! The school newspaper! Friends! Enemies! Frenemies! A high school sorority (seriously?)! Hanging out at the beach! Being kidnapped! Getting into trouble! Getting out of trouble! I couldn’t get enough.
Until of course, I was actually in high school myself, and was more interested in the experiences I was actually having than the made-up adventures in the books. But while I may have outgrown the series and stopped collecting it, I had a hard time parting with the ones I already owned. I kept them in a tall stack in the corner of my old bedroom closet in my parent’s house for over a decade. Then, a few years ago, I started to get a conscience about all the childhood stuff I’d left with my parents. Why should they have to act as a storage unit for things I’d basically forgotten? So little by little, during visits to their house, I tried to reclaim anything I was interested in keeping, and toss anything I didn’t want.
During one of these sorting sessions I came across my old Sweet Valley High books, and I weirdly felt a sentimental pang for them. I took them home with me, not really wanting to read them again, but not really wanting to throw them out either. They’ve sat in a bag in one of our basement storage areas for a few years now. But this year, with everything I own being under scrutiny, I finally decided it was time for them to go.
However, because they were a “collection” I thought maybe they could be worth something – I mean, I did have a lot of them. So rather than just donating them I hauled them into Powell’s. The buyer took one look, shook her head, and said, “We don’t take Sweet Valley High books. Sorry.” Once again, in the eyes of the world, what I thought was valuable was worth nothing.
But as I walked away, instead of thinking, “what a waste of time and money,” I just smiled to myself. I got a lot of enjoyment out of those books when I was reading them. I’m glad I had them when I did. And I’m equally glad to donate them now – I hope some thirteen year old girl will make my old friends her new ones.