Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Time Machine in My Garage

Today, my husband and I took a trip through the Wayback Machine. All we had to do was step into our garage - it was a wild ride!

First, a disclaimer: If you walk into my house, you don't have to squeeze through the door and navigate through stacks of things. I don't have wall-to-wall collections, unless you count books, and those are neatly shelved on bookcases. Those that wouldn't fit in bookcases are in organized bins. I'm not a hoarder.

Doth I protest too much? Probably. Because while I'm not a hoarder, I AM a collector. Okay, with certain things I'll admit it, I'm a pack rat. (Have you seen my Pinterest page? That's after only two months. Imagine what I can collect in twenty years.) To some extent, so is my husband.

This isn't necessarily a bad thing. We've saved some really cool stuff, like every issue of the Beatles books my husband received during his years in the Beatles' fan club back in England. We have a LOT of Beatle albums, 45s, books, magazines, newspapers - pretty much anything related to the Beatles, we saved.

We also saved a lot of crap. Treasured crap, but still...

I saved pretty much every sheet of paper my kids ever drew or painted on, every school assignment, every Sunday School paper, programs from every play they were in, Student of the Month awards, sports awards, and so on and so forth.

I'm a letter-writer, card-sender and postcard-mailer, always have been. In return, a lot of people have sent me letters, cards and postcards over the years. I've probably saved 90 percent of them. Okay, maybe only 80 percent. It's still a lot of paper.

If only that were all I saved, it would be relatively normal. But no, the pack rat in me didn't draw the line at pretty cards, treasured letters or my kids' memorabilia. I saved everything.

Today, I decided to tackle the bins of papers we've stored in neat, organized, non-hoarder type stacks in the garage. Spring cleaning for pack rats is never a simple project. In this case, it was less a cleaning project than a trip back through a time machine.

Among the things I found:

*A canvas sailor hat my friends autographed back in 1966, between 8th grade and freshman year.

* I tried not to stop and read all the Christmas and birthday cards in the bins, but I did find a 21st birthday card to me from my husband.

*Business cards and pay slips from every place I've worked in the past 35 years or so.

*Cancelled checks and bank statements from the year my daughter was born (1983). I paid some bills the day I went into the hospital!

*An old wallet insert filled with pictures of my husband from the mid-1970s.

*My union card from when I was in NATSOPA in England in the late 1970s.

*Mortgage papers, plus receipts for carpeting, furniture and repairs on the two houses we owned in England, back in the 1970s and early 1980s.

*My pocket calendar with the list of farewell parties we attended right before we moved back to the U.S.

*Newspapers with just about every major event in the last 40 years.

*Wallpaper swatches my husband and I both recognize but can't for the life of us remember which houses they were from.

*Countless cards and letters from relatives who haven't been with us for years.

*Half a bin filled with letters, cards and postcards written by me when we lived in England and mailed to my grandmother and mother, who saved them. My mom passed hers on to me when they moved to a smaller house. I'm sure they tell an interesting story of our life over the pond, but will I ever read them? Will anybody? Probably not. The only people they're likely to interest are me and my husband, and I can't see us going through them all. Life goes on.

*Although, we did find a huge stack of journals my husband wrote while we lived in England. He flipped one open to the day I fell down some wet marble steps, sprained and fractured my ankle and tore some ligaments in my knee. It took a long time to heal (because it happened while I was working - we were madly busy and I didn't take the time to go to the doctor for two or three days). When I hit my fifties, that dang knee started acting up occasionally. I'd forgotten when it happened - now I can pin it down to the exact day in 1977.

*The journals are incredibly detailed, and we've had some laughs at the descriptions of a few of our arguments back then. I was touched that my husband mentioned my new hair style (he liked it), and that he'd listed every little thing I gave him for Christmas.

*There were a lot of things I have no clue why I saved - book club catalogues, magazine clippings, brochures from hotels we stayed at, even airline luggage tags from every trip we've ever taken. There were also lots of cool things, like playbills from all the shows we saw in London. Good times!

We probably transferred fifty pounds of paper from the storage bins to the trash bins, and there are a lot of bins left. Both Marty and I are feeling nostalgic, but with no desire to actually return to those days. Our little jaunt back through time has been fun, as well as dusty and a bit tiring. When it comes right down to it, though, even though we're older and grayer now, I really wouldn't want to go back through time.

I like it fine just where I am.


Jennifer Tanner said...

I'm reading the list of things you've saved and nodding because I saved the same things! When I helped my parents move from the house they'd lived in for thirty years, I tossed my grade school stuff and old papers, but kept all of my letters. I love that your husband kept a journal. I hope you're not tossing those!

Kathleen Sara Shattuck said...

I feel a story(s) here...humm****

Becke Davis said...

Jen - We found almost a whole bin full of Marty's old journals, several decades of them. He's having fun reading through them now. He just read out loud a section about our first trip to Italy. I want him to type it up and post it here!

Becke Davis said...

Kathy - I LOT of stories! Although, as Marty said, he wouldn't want anyone else to read his journals because he was so frank. After some of the bits he read me, I can understand why! (On the other hand, he might have a best seller on his hands if he did!)

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