Monday, October 12, 2009

Touching the Past

One of my daughters says I’m a compulsive hoarder. Let me set the record straight and say I’m no where near being called out on an upcoming Oprah show. Yes, I have hung onto things, even with my many moves over the last thirty years; I still have stuff I collected in high school.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with saving things that hold significance; I absolutely love reconnecting with my past.

This friend from junior and high school died shortly after graduation. This is a reminder of our sweet friendship and her keen humor.

Having that tangible evidence in my hands: scrapbooks that hold movie tickets and faded flowers from past dates, my children’s baby dresses and blankets, airline tickets from places I may never get the chance to ever visit again; these items bring back memories that give me comfort and joy. It’s that ability to hold the past in your hand or in your mind that made me a historian, genealogist, and oral historian, after all.

So, yes, I am a collector of things past. Yesterday, as I organized my home office I ran across a 2002 Far Side daily planner. I opened it and found myself reading a day-to-day account of my life from January 1 to December 31.

A day-in-the-life from 2002

Reading certain entries I was able to clearly recall the event or mood of a day seven years previous. I realize that I hadn’t kept the practice up, that I have little recollection of what I did a week ago, much less every day over the last few years. Starting today, my day planner will begin to be filled with more than just the “gotta-dos.”

Here’s a sample of My Life circa 2002

•My thyroid problem escalated and after repeated consultations with endocrinologists, it was removed in May

•I followed daughter Adrian’s pregnancy, first from afar while she lived in New York, then when she came to live with us, close at hand, a memory I’ll always cherish

•Daughter Erin’s coming-of-age at our home in Vegas, before she decided to move back to where she was really happy, getting her first apartment in Attica, New York

•The birth of beautiful Aiden

His 6-year-old self's art creation

•My ever-increasing discontent working in a job that ran me ragged, the work never ending, the compromises I made for the sake of a measly paycheck

•The escape from the job I hated to work for a summer in Yosemite National Park where I worked in museum archives, where my daughters, grandson and best friend came to stay for extended periods of time. We read, talked, laughed, hiked, and bonded like never before

•The once-in-a-lifetime trip to Italy, to the birthplace of my paternal grandfather and to see with my own eyes a place of such ancient history

Train Ticket from Italy trip

•One entry had my current weight with a sad face penciled in next to it. Boy, if only I could still be that weight now! I see I have gained 2 pounds a year since then

•The many fluctuations of the relationship with my husband: sometimes we argued, sometimes things were better than ever. Always, money was at the crux of our discord; there was never, ever enough of it

•Visits with various family and the places around town we showed them

•Marking the first anniversary of 9-11

Yes, 2002 was a very busy year, as I am sure every year has been before and since. I’m looking forward to reading about today in the future and recalling memories that make me smile.


Drahdrah said...

Holding on to things that have significance is not hoarding, it's documenting your history. It's wonderful that you have reminders of your past that can bring you back to the emotions of the time.
Also amazing how we look back at certain things that made us unhappy, and would love to be back there now !!! (I'm referring to your weight with the sad face next to it !).

Valerie said...

I agree with Drahdrah, memories must be maintained. I am about to start a scrapbook depicting the last four years and getting thrilled by the idea of reliving the events as I deal with each item.

Joanna Jenkins said...

If that's hoarding, I'm guilt as charged. Some things you just have to keep, they bring back such wonderful memories.

AmyK said...

I love those pieces of our former selves. People used to write and keep diaries and letters and scrapbooks in the past. It is a lost art now. Be glad you have them and they will be equally cherished to pass on to your children. When my mother passed away, we found a couple of her diaries. I love them.

Vegas Linda Lou said...

We need that stuff around--it helps us remember our lives.

I love you!

Judith Mercado said...

According to David Hume, memory creates self identity. When I find odd pieces of papers which elicit certain memories, they held me understand the person that I am.

mo.stoneskin said...

Gosh I can't imagine the emotions when looking at the handwritten note of a deceased school friend, I really can't.

I like the ideal of keeping a diary and especially the way it preserves feelings and memories, but most of the time I'm just too lazy.

June Saville said...

I think there's a difference between being a 'hoarder' and a selective collector of historical objects - that's more me anyway.
June in Oz