Like many photographers, I work on personal projects that don’t necessarily lead to financial gain or have any relation to my regular, paid work. It’s been a couple months since I posted anything from my most recent project, so I’ll reintroduce it.
“Things I’m Throwing Out” is my documentation of all this stuff I’ve accumulated over years and had troubling getting rid of. I recently realized that the reason I hang on to this stuff is because I like seeing the items and remembering the stories behind them. So I’m photographing these mementos, writing little stories about them, and then periodically posting each item on this blog. Then I’ll donate or throw out the stuff. I don’t exactly aim to become a minimalist. I just want to stop lugging around boxes and boxes of random belongings whenever I move (for the record: 20 times since graduating from undergrad, seven of those times to other countries).
Item #4: Cassette tapes and metal suitcase
One of my earliest memories related to music is sitting outside with my family’s portable tape player and listening to a Kenny Rogers tape over and over to memorize all the song lyrics. My favorite was “Lucille,” the song about the woman with “four hundred children and a crop in the field.” I always wondered about those “four hundred children.” What house would be big enough for them? How did they get around? Did they have to share all their toys? (The correct lyric is “four hungry children.” But I wasn’t the only one who heard it wrong!)
I started accumulating cassette tapes around the time I memorized all those Kenny Rogers songs. First I bought a Madonna tape and then a Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam tape (pictured above). My sister and I made up dances to these tapes, listening to our favorite songs over and over, often having to rewind a little, hit play, fast forward a little, hit play, rewind again, hit play. You might remember how it was.
When I got this metal suitcase a couple years after I started buying music, I thought I’d use it as an actual suitcase. Turned out the weak clasp made it unpractical for that purpose. Then I realized the suitcase would be the perfect container for my cassettes. I toted my music collection to different houses my family lived in and to college, where my first roommate told me my Linda Ronstadt tape made her think of her mother.
It’s been years since I owned a tape player. Some of the cassettes in this suitcase I’ve rebought as CDs and then as digital tunes. It’s funny for me to look at all the music in this case and see how my tastes have and haven’t changed. There’s no Kenny Rogers in this suitcase because that was my Dad’s tape, but I still love the song “Lucille” and yes, I do have it in my iTunes. Sometimes I still sing “four hundred children” for old times’ sake.