Thursday, March 3, 2016

On #Throwback Thursday

My father called me a few weeks ago to tell me that he was cleaning out his storage unit and would I want my lacrosse jacket from 1994 and a Pop Warner softball jacket from what I can only imagine was 1986.

I said I would take the lax jacket, but I was all set with the other. The next time my mom came over both jackets were with her. The softball jacket was so faded you could barely read the writing on the back. It promptly went into the donate bag. The lacrosse jacket, I hung in my closet. It was in pretty good shape for being almost 22 years old and I thought even though I haven't seen or worn it in that long, why give it away?

Later, a bin of stuff showed up.
  • A scrapbook from senior year full of programs from sports dinners, my college acceptance letter
  • A Far Side collection of comics that when I leafed through it contained an envelope with my original birth certificate in it
  • Photos from senior year and prom
  • Ticket stubs, a lot of pictures from nights that I don't have much recollection of (probably for a myriad of reasons!), but filled with the young, young faces of friends: The first boy I ever loved. The last boy I ever loved. Girls who turned into almost 40-year-old women who I am grateful for everyday.
Say my name, sun shines through the rain, my whole life so lonely then you come and ease the pain. . . I don't want to lose this feeling. . . Do you like the special effects I put on this pic? I thought it was very eternal flamy.
I pulled out a shoebox that contained letters written by my high school friends to me freshman year of college, all tinged with a bit of homesickness, before some of us drifted apart, when we were still trying to maneuver in that new environment, still trying to hold onto the ties of the past. On top of those letters were cassette tapes, and not only were there mix tapes and full albums of music, but there were cassette singles. You know, like you bought it for one song, I am imagining it was more than the $1.09, iTunes charges, but still. I am embarrassed to tell you what they were. Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You" (a classic, really--oh The Bodyguard), The Bangles "Eternal Flame" (totally necessary), Jesus Jones, "Right Here Right Now" (I have no excuse for this one), Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians, "What I Am" (a song that till this day reminds me of sophomore year in high school) and finally Bonnie Raitt, "Not the Only One" (I am at a loss here).
A few ticket stubs, I think I can toss these.

But what of all this stuff? Can you donate cassette tapes to Goodwill? Will they even take them? As nostalgic as it was to go back through all this, what can I actually do with it? Put the scrapbooks on the shelf. Toss out a photo or two for #tbt? When do the memories become enough?

My father called me again a couple of days ago. Do I want my writing from college? Yes. Do I want my drawings from kindergarten? I don't even want my own kids' drawings from kindergarten. I have bins full of photos, of artwork from preschool on. I have that constant dialogue in my head will we need it someday? will my kids want these memories of theirs? will my kids want this of mine?

I can't get rid of that thought that if there is no proof then it is forgotten. And isn't that what we all want? Proof of our own lives, a life well lived?

My kids won't have much of a box to sort through. Most of their lives have been documented, written about, filtered, posted and shared. There is something to be said about the endlessness of the Internet, where all you have to do is type something in and up it comes, but there is also something to be said about handwritten letters tucked in a Gap shoebox, the photo negatives, a note written on yellow legal pad that wrapped a $20 bill from my dad, the reminder that tucked in all those photos were the people and events who made you who you are.
I am not embarrassed to say that he still slips me $20s every once in a while.

So the cassette tapes will go, the photos I will hold onto for a while, the letters I will read and re-read. Not because I am trying to relive some glory days or hold on too tight to the past, but because those are the faces, the voices of the people who mattered the most to me at that time and that place, and there is something to be said for remembering.

I try to live now for the present, for my babies and to do all those things I said I would then. I try to follow through, in the immortal words of Jesus Jones, right here, right now.

P.S. if you went to high school with me, expect some texts/emails with photos to come your way. I have hundreds.

P.P.S. there was also a Richard Marx, "Right Here Waiting" single cassette tape in there. I said it. Go ahead and judge, but I guarantee you are singing that right now.