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Who are my memories for? - Emily Macaulay [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Emily Macaulay

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Who are my memories for? [Oct. 1st, 2015|08:30 am]
Emily Macaulay
My family home is being sold.  Suddenly my one bedroom flat is full of boxes as the thirty plus years worth of memory boxes, previously stored unassumingly in the loft of my family home, are once again my responsibility. 

I haven’t even looked in most of these boxes since I filled each one and now I am going through them, awash with the emotion that each item evokes, the memories that come flooding back to me.  I have items from my pre-teens, my teens, late teens, university years and even more recent than that.  I’m not a hoarder by any means, I’ve got my thirty-three years into about ten boxes but there is some stuff I look at now and think “why did I keep that?”

And that got me thinking.  Why was I keeping any of it?  It is now all taking up valuable space that I simply don’t have in my place and suddenly what felt like important keepsakes, now feel like clutter.  There is no item that I have lifted out of the box and thought “what was this again?” or that has caused me to think “oh yes, I’d forgotten all about that”.  All these items are just physical adjuncts to the memories in my head, memories I can access at will.

More concerning that finding you've kept your old Brownie uniform? Discovering you can still (just) fit into it!

Am I keeping these prompts because one day I may not be able to remember without them? Possibly.  Am I keeping them as they may have a monetary value in the future? Evidence shows that rarely is the case.  Am I keeping them because I have an emotional attachment to them that means (particularly if they are of a quality that their only alternative residency is a landfill site) I can’t bear to not have the option of being able to access them? Yes, a bit.  Am I keeping them in order to prove what I have done, where I have been? Yes, definitely.

That last point was an interesting one as I considered it.  It formed most clearly to me when I was recycling programmes from old school plays.  In one, for example, it lists me as playing Belinda Cratchit.  Bob Cratchit in the same production (who by the by I had a duet with - lolz) was a young man who has since achieved some impressive things acting wise including appearing a Nicole Kidman film.  I hesitate to admit it, but I think some of my holding on to these scrappy bits of paper was to have some record of people who I had been connected with in some way…just in case they got famous.  Yuck.  I hate how that sounds, and it isn’t like I’d ever even do anything if it were the case (I haven’t ever contacted Bob Cratchit).  This lack of action told me I was safe to bin the programmes, and just hold the memories of past acquaintances in my mind.

I saved these kind of items from waaaaaay back in my childhood, not recently, I hasten to add.  I don’t think that way anymore, it screams to me of a time when I felt I had limited self worth.  Although this leads to a related point.  What if I ever became known myself and people wanted proof of what I’d done.  My wikipedia page would have to say “citation needed” against the statement that I had once played Belinda Cratchit (oh you should have seen my pulled up knee high white socks!) in a school play, just because I’d recycled the programme proving it.  Again, this harks back to a time in my childhood when I thought, like most people I guess, that I wanted to be famous.  I don’t want that now.  I want to matter, I want to have made a difference to people’s lives, but not fame per se (and frankly a air of mystery on one’s wikipedia page is not bad thing)…(not to say that I think fame is measured by one’s wikipedia page.  Ok, I’m going off on a tangent here, stopping now).

The other thought that struck me about why I was keeping all this stuff was to show others.  I won’t be having children.  I can’t imagine any nieces or nephews wanting to be bored with it.  My parents and sister lived through it.  So there’s no one to show.

Another issue I have is how much of a different person I am now.  Everyone changes, I get that, but I look back at some of these things and hate the times they remind me of.  They remind me of a person, of a me, that I don’t wish to remember and see no value in remembering. 

I conclude therefore that I will, over the coming months, take my time in looking through each box.  I will experience each emotion and memory as it is reactivated and then I will dispose (in the most appropriate manner) of the item.  As I am in this process I find myself also looking at my current material goods that surround me, questioning why I have them, why I keep them.  I suspect some (many?) of them will go too.

I will end this process with no memory boxes.  Not no memories, but no boxes.