"There is no way to sort through all of this!" Primo said.
"If it were me, I would start with the photos and approach the them this way," I said. "I would do an initial sort and pull out any photos with Ted, Jack, Stephanie, and the kids. Then I would send them to them. Then I would pull out the photos of Nancy and send some of those to your brothers and the kids. Then I would pick the best of the remaining photos and make an album."
I set the timer for 30 minutes. "Let's go."
Primo pulled out the smallest box of photos. I pulled out a handful and started sorting - Nancy, Nancy and Primo, Nancy and Primo with Sly and Doris, photos with nobody from the family, i.e., of trees, of hospitals, of random buildings.
Primo started panicking. (That is what he does.) "Stop! You're going too fast!"
"No I'm not. Just pick a batch and start sorting!"
He didn't want to do that. He wanted to sit side by side while we reviewed each photo together.
Can you say, "A task that will never end?"
"That's not efficient!" I said. "I am not making any decisions - I am sorting these into piles that will be easier for you to make decisions about."
Let me segue here to talk about my friend Bruce, who had lunch with us yesterday as he was driving back home. He runs estate sales. He charges $125 an hour to sort through junk.
"My record is 78 pounds," he said.
Primo said, "That wouldn't work for me. I am a control freak."
(That was not news to anyone.)
"I would still have to look at everything before they threw it out."
"They don't throw it out," I said. "They categorize it so the client can make the decision."
Bruce nodded his head in agreement.
"But I would still have to look at everything!"
"You mean you would not trust that someone you are paying $125 an hour to sort for you actually got the category of 'check registers from the 1940s' correct?"
"I would still want to look."
I sighed. Reader, this is my life.
So I sorted photos into these categories:
- Nancy as a little girl
- Nancy and her cats
- Nancy and Primo, Nancy and Sly and Doris, Nancy and grandparents
- Nancy with the black eye that apparently a boyfriend had given to her
- Nancy and her skanky boyfriends
- Nancy topless on a beach on vacation with Sly and Doris
- Nancy pointing at her Marilyn Manson poster
Primo got all stressed out, which is understandable. He said, "All these people are dead. My family is dead. I can't just get rid of this stuff!"
He did agree to throw away about 10% of the photos - the photos of the trees and buildings. The rest, no. I suggested a compromise. "I didn't think about how emotional this would be for you, sweetie. Let's do this. Let's leave the photos and work on the financial papers instead. Those won't have so much meaning. And if you don't want to do the photos at all this year, then let's just get some of the boxes in the basement instead. I don't care about getting rid of these boxes in particular - I care about getting rid of overall junk. I am willing to trade boxes in the basement for the stuff you brought from your mom and dad's."
He agreed. What this really means is that the boxes of photos will reside in our basement until we move away from here or until Primo dies, whichever comes first.