My mother has been storing for me a Lane hope chest inscribed with my name, my maiden name, in a closet in her guest room since I moved out of the house just under 20 years ago. In the chest I deposited many old journals, letters and all variety of stuff that at some point, I thought was cool.
So now the chest is in my home and there are 4 large shopping bags packed with journals, letters, old art projects, and other stuff I couldn’t bring myself to toss out.
My parents divorced when I was 13, thereabouts. I was in 7th grade or so.
I am not sure if I would have been more normal if my parents didn’t divorce, but these journals of mine are alternately scary, profoundly sad, psychotic, flaky, artful, clever and hilarious. The doodles I did were amazing. The caricatures and cartoons all look absolutely neurotic, but humorous.
I continued in this vain of absolute nutso-ness until about 21 years of age. My parents both urged me to get counseling, apparently. Looking at these journals is just sad…I didn’t instantly get grounded, but my life changed dramatically at 21/22. The misery stopped, life began. I finished college, travelled and travelled some more, went on and got an MAT, a good job, a good husband and of course a beautiful daughter. But for those years, I struggled constantly.
My instinct, after looking through them and having kept them for so long, I think the time has come. That part of my life, that sad, mad and bad part (to quote my nephew Spenser) is over…why oh why oh would I want to keep it around in memory?
They are so bad I don’t even want J to read them. It pains me to look at them and know that was me, 20 years ago.
The best part of these letters are letters from my grandma. They are like a voice of love and reason in a tempest. The cards from people, the love letters I necessarily must save. The Duran Duran paraphernalia (blarg! I admit it!) should probably go.
edit update: I called gram to tell her thanks for our long correspondence. She started in on how once when I was 16 she told me to comb my hair and apparently I wrote her a 5 page letter afterwards telling her how insensitive she was. Hm. I don’t recall this at all. She has told me this story at least 5 times now. After that she starts in about how my dad is not such a bad guy …blah blah crap about the divorce TWENTY YEARS AGO. My Aunt does the very same thing. It pains me slightly that these people, their only recollection of me is from the age of 16. Zoiks!
I asked J “WHY?”. He said it was because they are old, live in a small town, never bother to come to so much as a wedding or graduation to see that people outside of themselves have lives. A harsh evaluation, but I think there may be a speck of truth there.
So. What do I do with these journals, readers? Do I keep them to remember how sad my life was at one point? Do I burn them after plucking out any gems? Do I burn them, gems and all? When would I ever get the desire to plug through these durn things? Please weigh in, if you had stuff that reminded you of an excessively dreary past, would you hang on to it or burn it?