I've been off work this week and the first part of the week I was off without my husband which meant that I was able to focus--plus they were working on the roof of the house which made me get up and get going--rather than lie in bed listening to the banging on the ceiling. Which is not to say that I don't work when my husband is home, but the way we distract each other is a post for another day.
What I got up and did was to go through a lot of paper. I sorted my paid bills. I made a decision on the unsorted receipts--to stuff them in a box marked with the end date of June 30, 2008 and to go forward from here.
I went through magazines I'd been keeping. Now, as an organizer I would have advised a client to throw them away (recycle) sight unseen, and I almost did, but there weren't that many so I did a fast skin--pulled out a few pages and put them out with Wednesday's recycling. More on that in a bit.
I also went through my memory boxes. When I've had some memento in my life I've either stuffed it into a simple scrapbook or if not conveniently flat, stuck it into a shoebox. I have 6 scrapbooks and had 4 boxes. There is no rhyme or reason to it--I don't "scrapbook" as the new fad goes. I simply stick a few items on each page--roughly chronological, but not religiously so. Haphazard and unembellished. I also take few pictures of my life. Of our trip to England, there are about 4 with either of us in them. I take a lot of pictures of my dog, a few of my cat and a lot of locations. Friends and relations wonder at this and this is why--the object, a ticket stub, a deflated balloon, all bring back the whole event, the way I felt, the reason I saved it. A photo...brings back the moment of the photo. And to scrapbook would start to replace the real memory with the memory of the scrapbooking. So the past twenty years of my life are in these books and boxes in a way that would tell someone else absolutely nothing. I reduced the boxes to three by throwing away some props from shows--strangely as I recede from that time in my life I find the photos suffice, plus I have the research for the items and no longer need the items.
I went through the cards that I have been sent. Those who are reading and who have sent me cards are probably surprised to learn that I keep cards. I'm actually throwing out more as I get older, but I have all the congratulations from my graduation and my wedding, most of my birthday cards and a chunk of Christmas cards. Now, I sat down to throw some away and had started to do that when I realized that I was smiling as I found cards from old friends and I realized that I wanted to have that feeling again in the future as I "rediscovered" these thoughts again. If there was a letter and a card I might save the letter and not the card, but for the most part I kept them all. Musing had a recent post on the fragility of contact--of never knowing what will be the last word. I obviously keep everything from my father, but I don't know when those other friends and relations will be gone. I did come across cards from a few friends who are no longer friends. One set with whom we had a falling out and that was an unpleasant shock, and another set who drifted out of our lives when they had a child and we didn't. I threw those away with a slight sadness. A few other cards bore names that I'm sorry to say I didn't even remember. Co-workers at some point, perhaps someone from a show. I'm sorry, Rob, whoever you are. If I ever encounter you again, I may think of the card I tossed, probably not, and probably you don't remember sending it.
I have always tried to be a good letter writer--sometimes I think I overwhelm people with my eagerness to write letters, but I am frustrated by people who do not treat either letters or now email as conversation. As if they are merely posts of events or humor and that mine are likewise the same. I ask questions--I run onto tangents--much as I do here, and I seek answers and questions back. I seldom get them, particularly in the letters and so the correspondence peters out. But I do try.
I was saddened to realize how long it had been since I had seen several friends--that the Christmas promise of "this year, we'll get together" was never fulfilled.
I had a few printed emails, but I have not done that for a long time. I have often wondered what future biographers will do (not about me--I'm not so vain), but about anyone without the letters to draw from. Would the Adams, John and Abigail, be so interesting and vivid if not for the letters between "Dearest Friend"?
So I tidied them up and put them back in the decorated shoe box and on a shelf. It's only a few shoe boxes worth of space after all. And down the road I will go through them again--and remember less and weed again.