I’ve never had a basement before. Never, not once in my entire life. So when we got all the rain that pounded the Northeast over the last ten days or so–apparently several months’ worth of rain compressed into a week-and-a-half, or so I hear–it never once occurred to me to go down into the basement to see how everything down there was faring.
The answer: not so well.
Honestly, I think we might have been OK if it weren’t for Tommy. One of Tommy’s favorite spots to rest her fat ass is right up against the side of the house…more specifically, right against one of the two small windows that opens into the basement. Even more specifically, right against the window which has a rotten board on the underside. The window which Tommy was able to knock completely out of place, opening a foot-wide hole into the basement. I have no idea when she did that or how long the rainwater had free access to my stuff.
Most of what’s underneath that window will probably be OK; it’s either in plastic boxes or just not likely to be damaged much, if any, by water.
But my comic book collection was under that window, too. And I’m not positive yet, but I think I might have lost half of the comics I’ve been collecting since I was eight or nine.
I’m not a bag-and-board guy. My comics are just stored in longboxes1 without the mylar sleeves or backing boards that so many collectors use to store their books. It’s not that I don’t care about my comics; it’s just that A] bags and boards add to the expense of my little hobby, and I already have very little money to spend there, and B] I’ve always been more of a reader than a collector–I’ve never once considered the resale value of any comic I’ve ever bought. I buy them for my own reading enjoyment, plain and simple, that’s it, so I never thought much about “protecting my investment.”
That said, these comics are something that have been part of my life for a long, long time. I’ve been carting my collection around with me everywhere I’ve lived for the last–well, forever, honestly. From the time we moved up here in ‘03 until about three months ago, they were all in the storage unit we were renting to house all of the stuff that wouldn’t fit in our tiny apartment, and I was very happy when we finally liberated my comics from storage and moved them into our basement. I’d been meaning to go through them and figure out which ones I wanted to keep, which ones I might think about selling and which ones I could donate to a learn-to-read program or something of that ilk.
Now it seems like many of those decisions might have been made for me.
As I said, I don’t know yet exactly what’s lost and what’s not. It might be that I just have a bunch of comics that are just a bit floppier than they’d been before, thanks to the humidity (the one box I looked at seemed to bear that out as at least a possibility).
But here’s the thing: even if they’re all relatively OK, I’m thinking it might be time to get rid of them.
While Terry and I were in the basement trying to assess the damage, we found a couple of boxes of books that had also taken on some water. As I was going through that box to see what was in it, I was stunned to realize that I’d had no idea I still owned most of the books that were in it. These were books I just hadn’t thought about for years, and very few of them were books I ever had any intention of re-reading.
So why have I been dragging them across the country? Why did I bother stashing them in our storage unit for two years? Why bother still having them at all?
And the same goes for most of the comics I’ve been holding on to. I have them because I’ve always had them, not because I still have any great need to have them. Some of them I’m sure I’d like to keep (the dry ones, anyway)–either I think I’d enjoy re-reading them, or could possibly use them for story or art reference, or think I might actually be able to sell them at some point. But that doesn’t describe a very large percentage of them anymore.
Taking this realization one step further: there’s a lot of crap in that basement that we don’t need and don’t really want but still have just because. I can look around our office right now and see any number of books or other items that we have no use for anymore. How does it add anything to our lives to have all of these possessions around if we don’t even remember we have them?
I’m thinking the time is coming to simplify. We got rid of a bunch of stuff before we moved up here, but there’s obviously still a large amount of crap we’re holding on to for no good reason 2. The time might be coming soon for a Purge. A Cleansing. A Lightening of the Load. A Basement Enema, so to speak. I think our familial spiritual colon would feel much better afterwards.
So…anyone want a bunch of soggy comics?
Lidded boxes of heavy white cardboard about two feet long and about eight inches across, for those of you unfamiliar with such things. ↩
I think that sentimental attachment is a perfectly valid reason to keep some things, but I think there needs to be a valid reason for the sentimental attachment, or you wind up back in “just because” territory. ↩