I’m a memento kind of person. (Somewhere in a folder I have grass from a field I played in when I was eleven.) And maybe since such a large part of who I am is wrapped up in writing- it is difficult for me to throw away anything my pen has touched.
But I can’t keep everything. I don’t want to keep everything. I don’t want to keep the notes from the class I detested- the grades from teachers I disliked. I don’t want to keep the assignments I rushed through- memorials to pacts with mediocrity.
But as I sort the mess into piles (keep, discard), I find myself stopping for a rest- gasping- finding I’ve been holding my breath. I fear that somehow the worth of all that work is tied up in the notes and filled out tests and assignments stacked before me… if I throw them away- where is the proof that I sat through over 400 classes? Do I reduce those hours to a single-letter grade on my transcript?
Who can measure life-experience? Who can assign a letter-grade to the before-and-after ME? Who but I can understand that it is the impressions I received and my expanded perception of the world that I have to show- not facts I (can’t) regurgitate. The papers which I hold in my wavering hands (between the trash can and the next twenty years in a folder on a shelf) seem to embody a change, a process, and a part of my life.
Can I say good-bye to part of me?
I have one folder that is particularly difficult: a large cardboard sleeve full of my art projects… from last semester. They’ve been sitting against my wall for the last five months. I worked hard on those, I really did. I fought for the grade from a particularly hard to please teacher. I forced myself to sit with my pencils and scissors and poster-boards and think outside the box. I played for hours with my glue-stick. And the result was some pretty decent projects on texture, negative space, and depth-perception. But as you can see- neither I nor anyone else is likely to ever look at them again. I don’t want to frame them. They only take up space.
Is it enough to remember?
Can I keep the life I have lived within me- without physical remembrances?
Maybe it's better this way. I need to say good-bye. I need to be ok with what has happened and what it has made me- who I am right now- and move on as I am.
So with a wrench in my heart- I slap another thick wad of papers on the discard pile.