I spent the weekend at my parent's house since I have two nieces who recently celebrated birthdays and I, the dutiful aunt, had gifts for them. Having discovered that the oldest of my two nieces is a reader, just as I'd been as a child, I thought back to what I would have liked at her age. As a result, I ordered three of my favourite books from childhood from a UK based used book store. The books were, "The Owl Who was Afraid of the Dark," "The Worst Witch," and, my all time favourite- "Dogger"- a book about a little boy who loses his cherished stuffed toy dog but through the kindness of his older sister is reunited with it.
Sadly, I think my niece wasn't very impressed with the books at all. I'm hoping when she gets a little older, she'll enjoy them just as I did. If not, well...I tried and next time a gift-giving occasion arises, I'll try again to find something I think she'd like.
Anyway, aside from the birthdays, I had lunch with a friend which was very nice since she, too, is a writer and it's always nice to talk writing for a while.
I also was asked by my parent's if I could clean out my old bedroom since my dad wants to start one of his slightly tumultuous renovation projects which involves remodeling my old room. Actually, from the sounds of it, it sounds a little like it's going to demolish my old room but he seems to know what he's doing so...we have to trust him. For now, at least.
So, I spent a good part of today going through my old things which is where the time traveling came in. I found remnants of many ages and stages of my life from the very first 'published' piece of writing I did- when I was about nine, we had to write a fable so I wrote, "How the Sheep Got his Fleece." My teacher liked it so much she typed it up and mounted it on the wall for everyone to see. She said, "I want you to know what it looks like to see your name in print." It was nice to find that old story again.
I found the giant card, decorated with hand-sketched and coloured pictures of Mickey Mouse that my old friend, Lee Hudson, had drawn. Inside were all kinds of notes and messages wishing me luck in America. It was signed by most of my teachers and all of the people in my house at school. It was a bittersweet find- one that makes me smile at the thoughtfulness of my peers but sad that it was another life and another time. Some of those signatures belong to friends I have on Facebook but others...I'll probably never know where they ended up.
I also found my slightly cringe-worthy high school box. It was an old cardboard box, every inch covered by Sharpie-drawn pictures, words and cartoons that my friend, Amy, had done for me. When I'd originally got the box, it had a stuffed monkey in it. I didn't want to throw the box away so it became my memento box. Inside, I found old yearbooks, nostalgic trinkets that reflected my crushes and crazes of my adolescent years. I found pictures, cards and all kinds of memorabilia that is a visual trail of how I used to be.
I found college papers, articles from when I was a journalism major. They were graded and had enthusiastic comments on them from one of my favourite professors- Dr. Caroline Dow. Unfortunately, I found out she passed away from cancer a few years ago so I couldn't bring myself to throw those papers away. She'd believed in me so much and I know I disappointed her when I changed from a journalism major to theatre. To this day, I wonder if I made the right choice but since I liked where I've ended up, I can't look back and regret the decision.
I also found boxes of theatre playbills that is a chronological history of my obsession with theatre, photos of my high school friends, photos of me in high school. I was a supremely shy girl, very lacking in self-esteem, thinking myself very unattractive. I still have traces of that but, for the most part, have accepted that I am what I am and that's not so hideous. It's amazing to see those pictures and realize that I was a bit stupid to think I was so unattractive and ugly back then. I don't look so bad. Some photos, I think I actually look quite pretty. I hate that I couldn't see that then but I suppose most people doubt themselves in high school.
I continued my sorting and unearthed a collection of trinkets and papers from when I was a theatre intern in Maine for a summer and an apprentice the next. I loved Maine. If I were ever to be wealthier, I'd get a summer cottage up there. There's nothing better than the feel of an evening by the fire on a cool, fresh Maine beach. We used to go to the beach after the shows were done and sit out, drink beer and just talk. It was a great couple of summers.
I found articles I'd had published in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette when I'd been working there as a receptionist/library assistant. Short on staff, the features editor was looking for some articles and I volunteered. One of them made it to the front page of the Lifestyles section.
I kept all the mementos I mentioned above but I also threw away bags and bags of things that meant something at the time but didn't hold enough strong memories to justify keeping them. I am a pack rat of sorts but I also have the ability to know when to let things go which makes for a nice balance.
Essentially, I spent part of today looking back over my life through things that I've kept to remind me of it. It was a nice day, if a little sad. It's always bittersweet to look back at our lives and realize how far we've come even though some things were left behind. The things that are important to us change a little over time even though the really important things like friends, family and passions stay the same.
I kept the things that were most important to me. Now I just have to find somewhere to put them. That's the problem with memories; they always need a place to live. Yet I don't want to lose them so even if it means cluttering up a closet, I'll keep them with me as long as I can.
Because, sometimes, it's nice to travel back in time.