Saturday, January 2, 2010

I spent the new year living 15 years in the past.

I spent the evening of New Year's eve doing something I had meant to do for some time - sorting through old photos to post on Facebook to embarrass/delight my friends and family. Doing so came with a side order of nostalgia that was a bit unexpected. But apparently I enjoy the bittersweet taste.

While I had found a treasure trove of old photos of my family in random boxes in one of my mom's long neglected cabinets, I had to go searching for old photos of my friends. And seeing as I 1. hate to have my picture taken and 2. never had a camera of my own before the digital age, I wasn't expecting to find much. But I knew where to look.

When I had cleaned out my room in my parents' home - many many years ago - I had thrown all the old photos/notes/mementos from high school that I came across in to a Rubbermaid container. None of it was stuff that I had saved with a purpose, but rather the items which never got thrown away - so it was a collection of randomness at it's best. There were more photos than I expected, but they were almost all from dances and such. (ie. occasions on which I would have purchased a disposable camera to use.)

However, among all the photos, were oodles of folded up pieces of paper. Some written on in pencil and faded almost to the point of being unreadable. Some hastily folded, others folded into complicated shapes. Some which had once been crumbled up, and at least one which had been ripped in thirds.

That's right people. I had uncovered what must now surely be a long lost art form: the hand written note. Written in class, all the while hopeful that the teacher didn't catch you, and passed in the hall between classes, shoved into the little slotted opening in a locker, or, for the terribly brazen, simply handed off to a classmate while the teacher was writing on the blackboard.

(the blank area in the middle was where I was sitting on the floor amid the mess memories.)

If I read one, I read a hundred. Well, it may not have been that many, but felt like it. And while the handwriting was familiar, it was also now all but impossible to read. Like hieroglyphics that I once read with ease, but now was out of practice, and the deciphering took far more effort. But with each note opened, I knew right away whom it was from based on how it was addressed.


Some brought back memories of people, events, and conversations so clear it was as if we had just spoken on the topic days ago instead of years. Others mentioned people for whom I could no longer put a face to the name. Or answered questions that I don't remember posing. Poetry. Gossip. Songs. Pledges of love everlasting. Each a thing of beauty in it's own right - no matter how profound or banal. And each a reminder of who I was - which is a wonderful thing when you start to lose sight of who you are.

And while I spent those hours immersed in a time some 15 years+ in the past, it also made me think of the future. What would I have of this time to remember these moments? Yes, photos, to some extent. All on my computer, or phone, or flashdrive - almost none printed out. But what of correspondence? Emails long since deleted and text messages that are purged even sooner. What of these beautiful "notes"? Will there be anything for me to sort through 15 years from now to remember today's friendships? Or will I simply have to rely on my ever more unreliable memory?

If that is the case, I will have to apologize to you now. Some of you might leave no trace.

1 comment:

  1. I did this not too long ago in the form of looking through my old journals. It definitely helped remind me of who I was but also who I was becoming, and how I let that person go. I hope it has helped you. I found myself archiving specific emails, emailing myself specific texts, or instant messages, just to hold on to those 'notes' of the modern time.