I never considered myself a packrat.
And then I had to pack up my office and move to the other side of the tracks.
Somehow, three years worth of notebooks, old pictures, camera equipment, and notes seemed like three decades worth.
I threw away four trash can loads of stuff last week before the move, and my wife helped me throw away another one over the weekend.
But among the pieces of my newspaper life packed in liquor store boxes, I found mementos of the real world. Some made me laugh. Some didn't.
There was the old Shoe cartoon, cut out of a newspaper and left on my computer one day by a friend. The main character was being ridiculed for his (lack of) putting ability. "Four putt" his friends called him. I think I've earned the same nickname dozens of times.
There was the tattered copy of Al McGaw's e-mail about family, love and the twilight of life. I've saved it in my top desk drawer to read on those days the walls seem to close in. And I remember that a life lived is far better than one survived.
There's the kippah from the wedding of my buddy Steve Patch. The date is stamped inside - Nov. 13, 1999. Problem was Steve died Nov. 8, 1999. It was five days before his wedding, and a month before he was set to be one of my groomsmen. And that picture of all of us together at the World Wrestling Federation's Raw in Atlanta a month or so before he died is there, too. As is the Boston Bruins stuff I bought to put on his grave and just never did. (Yeah, it's still tough. Cuss that cancer.)
In another box was the ribbon off one of the wreaths at my granddad's funeral. It reads simply BOWW. It's the name I branded him with when I was a youngster. It's what my friends and family called him. It's what's on his tombstone beside that old country church.
I also found old concert tickets. The Barenaked Ladies in Atlanta, Chapel Hill and Charlotte. Dave Matthews in Columbia. And plenty of CDs, including a copy of that BNL concert in Charlotte, and - my current disc of choice - Eli Young Band Live at the Jolly Fox.
There were also scorecards from past rounds of golf, old baseball cards, stickers, magazines books and too many paperclips to count.
And there was a stack of notes from people thanking us for something we published in The Mirror, some donation we made or some activity we participated in.
Among them was a hand-written note from Inez Wylds, one of my favorite folks in the world. She sent it with her subscription renewal this year. It says simply: "I am expecting you to get all of those awards for community newspapers."
So I've got my assignment, a new office and a lot of work to do.
Even if I am unpacked.