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The Telling Room: Breaking Up With Beloved Objects

Childhood is full of lessons; one of them is learning to let go. For Chris McCabe, letting go of a treasured object - even if it's no longer practical - can be like saying goodbye to an old friend. He shares his perspective, as part of our Friday series of essays produced in partnership with the Telling Room in Portland.

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I've always had an issue with giving things away. To me, giving something away is like losing a piece of me, because I can practically see the sadness of the object as it's given to someone else. "I've lived with you all my life, and you're throwing me out?"

I'm fifteen now and have a slightly easier time giving things away than I did as a younger kid. I really don't want to throw away my holey childhood backpack, but I will if I must. However, I had a pretty different mindset as an elementary schooler.

When I was three, my uncle gave me a big white desk with detachable shelves. This desk was too big for me at the time, and homework in preschool was lacking. Instead, I used the desk and its shelves as a playground for my figurines. It had moved from Maryland to Maine with me and was never too busy to play. I used it as a workstation whenever I had work, or as the mountainous home to villainous Legos and plastic dragons during my free time.

This desk was like a brother to me, but there's a problem: brothers grow; the desk didn't. Brothers are brothers forever; we were not. I outgrew the desk, and my parents took it away from me. Angry, I refused to talk to my family for long hours. But, on its journey out the door to be driven away, I managed to get in one last moment with the desk.

After my desk was gone, I got a new one. The new desk was flat and boring in comparison, but has served me well over the last few years. I still miss the white desk because it was my alternative to social interaction, but hey, everything must go on.

Now that I've gotten a bit older, I feel a bit more ready to part with some of the things I have had for a while. Not fully ready, though, not yet. I'll still hide my sadness when something is thrown away. I hope that one day the loss won't be as cutting; or won't even be there at all. For now, though, I hope every object I have feels loved.

Chris McCabe is brought to us by the Portland-based Telling Room, a non-profit writing center dedicated to the idea that children and young adults are natural storytellers. Every Friday this summer we'll share an essay from a student between the ages of six and 18 with a unique perspective on the world.

Photo of author Chris McCabe: Courtesy the Telling Room


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