Monday, September 28, 2009

Remembrances of things past

I admit I tend to hoard. I have every single letter my friend Jo wrote to me while we were both in college, complete with her drawings all over them. I saved sympathy cards and letters when my fiance died, cards and letters when I got married to Jeff (and I even have the list of all the songs we wanted played at our wedding and all the songs we did not want played, including the odious Celebration and Wind Beneath my Wings), more cards and notes when I had Max, and even more when I got so critically ill (and then well again).

Before I put everything on my Mac, I used to hoard my datebooks, and even my old checkbooks so I could leaf through and think: Oh, in April of 1988, I bought a leather bag in the Village. I had dinner at Intermezzo in Chelsea. Ah, that's the date I called that guy I had a crush on and we went to the movies and he went right home afterwards. Alone.

There is something about holding those little pieces of history in your hand that bring it all back. No one really saves emails or texts, and if you do, it usually is for business, but it just isn't the same as having that paper or that card--that visual that's so much richer than an email catapulting you back to a specific time and place in your personal history. I used to laugh at my mother for saving everything I ever wrote, including my letters home from college. Now, I'm glad.

Details, in life and in novels, make all the difference.


Clea Simon said...

Ah, the handwriting of someone who was dear and who has died... priceless.

Anonymous said...

I treat emails like a phone call, and unless there is necessary data that needs to be saved, I delete them after reading them; if not, my inbox and saved folders would overflow the hard drive's capacity.

This is to say that in a generation, what was so valuable to every generation for hundreds of years, our boxes of crinkly photos, postcards, great and trivial letters, telegrams, will not exist in any form.

It is a loss unimaginable to those who will never know, and for those of us who do ... we aren't long to take up space here anyway.

Patry Francis said...

Thanks for making me think about what we save and why.

I don't hoard the typical things, but old datebooks are my treasures. Every now and then I open one and find an quote I scribbled down years ago that seems to be just what I need TODAY. Other times, I'm discouraged to find how many times I've vowed to change a habit that's still with me. But that's okay, too. It reminds me that there's still time to recommit.

I also save every birthday/mother's day card my kids ever gave me. With four kids and an increasing number of birthdays, it's becoming quite a mountain.

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