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Willi Nilli: Remembering a childhood

As many of you know, I have experienced a few big milestones over the last year or so, including celebrating my one-year anniversary at the News, getting engaged and turning 25.

This year will see even more life-changing events take place, from getting married to moving out of my parents’ house for good and moving into a brand new place with my wife-to-be in the near future. With so many changes coming down the pike, I took some time this last weekend to clean out my room and condense all of my childhood possessions so that it would be easier to move them when the day comes.

As I went through my childhood possessions, I realized two things. The first is that I have held on to a lot of random stuff from when I was younger. The second is that I can’t keep everything, so I have to find the things that really mean the most to me and let go of the things that don’t.

The biggest part of my cleaning/condensing came from my white, plastic drawers that have sat by my bed since I moved down to the basement a good 10 or so years ago. When I opened the top drawer I found several knick-knacks and other odds and ends that ended up in a box to be given away or thrown in the trash. But I also discovered my old collection of gift cards from Target to iTunes that I used to keep because I had dreams of creating a huge collage of gift cards to hang on my wall. For some reason I thought that would be a good idea, but I decided that I would still keep them just in case I ever got creative and wanted to take on that task again.

The next thing I found in the drawer were a bunch of old birthday, Christmas, college graduation and other such cards celebrating special events in my life or just celebrating a specific holiday season. It was fun to look through those cards again and see how much my family and friends care about me, but in the end I threw away a majority of those cards and kept only the ones I felt had some special meaning to me.

After discarding a good chunk of my saved cards, I came across my old shutout patches that recorded every shutout I ever got throughout my hockey goaltending career. I think I recorded 10 to 12 shutouts while I played hockey throughout elementary, middle and high school. And even though I can’t remember the scores of those games or much else about how I got those patches, I will never forget how it felt to stop every single goal for an entire game. That feeling was one of the best in the world, because it meant that I had given it my all and, most importantly, that my team had won the game.

Although I should have went on to the second drawer of the storage unit, that drawer will have to wait until a later day for me to clean it out. That second drawer has held my old video games since I started playing video games way back when and contains my original black and white Nintendo Game Boy -- which still works -- and all my other video games, from the Game Boy Color to the 3DS. I used to be a huge video game fan when I was younger, but over the last few years I have lost interest in most video games, especially since I have more than enough TV series to keep up with and books to read.

There was no way I could have gone through my video game drawer by myself without crying and ending up in the fetal position clutching all my old video games to my chest. OK, maybe it wouldn’t have been that bad, but I know for a fact that every game I took out of that drawer would have just ended up back in the drawer after a half an hour or more of deliberation on my part on whether to get rid of it. When I do end up going through that drawer, I think I will probably only keep a few of my old games, most likely just the original Pokemon trilogy: Pokemon Red, Pokemon Blue and Pokemon Yellow. I loved those games so much and probably “wasted” one year of my life playing through each game, with my trusty guide book at my side (which I also still have) on my way to collecting all 150 Pokemon and completing the PokeDex on the Blue version of the game. Those three games will always have a special place in my heart. I might end up putting those three games in a shadow box to hang on my wall in my office to remind myself of those great times playing one of the best games of all time.

When I moved on to the the third drawer things got easier, because a lot of the stuff from that drawer down was easier to get rid of. I kept a few things, like my Digimon/Pokemon comic books and the ticket stubs from every Wild, Twins and NDSU Bison game I’ve ever been to, as well as some of the tickets to the shows I saw in Las Vegas with my cousin and other things that hold sentimental value. I know that I will probably end up getting rid of a lot of that stuff, but hopefully it won’t be for a few more years. Hopefully I will open up a drawer 30-40 years from now and find those ticket stubs and comics again and remember the good times that were had.

Another thing that I will be holding onto for the foreseeable future is all of the papers, ticket stubs, grass from the field and anything else that goes with it from the great run the NDSU football team has made over the last four years. I have many great plans to eventually paint a wall green and gold, plaster it with NDSU memorabilia and kneel in front of it every day and pray to the football/sports gods for another good season. We’ll see if I ever have the space for something like that. I’ll keep you posted.

In the end, I think I threw away at least two small trash cans worth of my old stuff and will be giving away another one or so trash cans of stuff that someone else might be able to enjoy. The greatest lesson I think I learned from cleaning out my room and the drawers of the storage unit was that although I will always remember the past, I don’t need to keep every scrap of paper or birthday card or little toy my grandpa gave me one Christmas to remember my childhood fondly. I will always remember the good times, and the bad, because without those experiences I wouldn’t be the person I am today.

And some time in the future, hopefully not too soon, my own children will be going through their childhood much like I did. Hopefully I won’t be as much of a pack rat with their childhood as I was with my own.

@ti:Jordan Willi has been a reporter at the New Richmond News since September 2013.

Jordan Willi
Jordan Willi is a reporter for the New Richmond News. Previously, he worked as a sports reporter at the Worthington Daily Globe in Worthington, Minnesota. He also interned at the Hudson Star Observer for two summers and contributed to the Bison Illustrated sports magazine at North Dakota State University.
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