On my desk, in the corner that’s behind the printer and the catchall for all things I deem small yet useful, are two piles.
One is in a cup. It’s it mishmash of pens and markers I’ve collected over the years. There’re a few art pens and markers I bought for an undergrad class over a decade ago, and for some reason have been lugging them around like a prized possession. There’s also the marker I pocketed from my brief, tiny stint at the Department of Health in the UK (where “pens” are “biros”). The labeling is exotic enough for me to keep it around, and since I can really only make a case for keeping a marker around if it works, I barely use it so there’s always some writing left in it. There are a couple of pens from our wedding in the cup, too. Some people give out candied almonds as a wedding gift, some give out mix CDs, we gave out pens.
The other pile is the mass of business cards I’ve collected over the years. That pile is on its side, sticking out of an overstuffed envelope. Erupting with contacts, you could say. Or more accurately, erupting with acquaintances. I suppose the Rolodex was the original social network. I suddenly feel bad for the employees of Rolodex. They can’t be doing well. And despite the fact that the contacts I have in the business world that have paid off never gave me a business card, that I’ve never actually pulled any of these bits of hefty paper-weight with their meticulous design out, I can’t bring myself to purge the pile. I can’t throw it out.
I can’t throw either of them out. Actually, now that I’ve thought about it, it’s more of a possibility than it was. But still, think of what I’d be without. Little clues to where I’ve been and who I’ve talked to. A whole corner of my desk, dedicated to helping me remember.