Thursday, 3 January 2013

Archives

One of my projects during the Christmas break was to go through the storage boxes under the stairs in an attempt to clear out, de-clutter, and generally make some space for all the shizzle we'll need to store once the wee one arrives.

I did quite well, considering my tendency towards hoarding and my ability to let nostalgia derail any attempts to clear out: I got rid of one box worth of stuff.  Which doesn't sound like much, but we're talking big, reinforced storage boxes here, so it was enough for me.

But still.  I have a lot of stuff.  Some of it is antiquey/vintagey stuff, given my by parents/friends/relatives over the years.  Some of it is stuff I'm saving for my kids (old school jigsaws, kids books, toys and the like).  However, the vast majority can only be described as an archive of my life.

As the husband pointed out, if ever someone wants to do a research project on what it's like to grow up as a middle-class, white, English, hugely introspective girl around the late 20th, early 21st century - well, it's all here.  All my journals.  Photos.  Mementos from holidays, trips, visits, childhood in general.  Selected (see - I did clear out!) school work, from Primary through to University.  Certificates (mainly ballet, though there is a cycling proficiency one in there somewhere!).  Posters, gig tickets, festival wristbands.  Notes on post-its written by my flatmates.  Take your pick, it's all in there.

But probably the biggest portion of my saved past (or at least, big enough to rival the journal collection) is the vast volume of letters I've received.  If you've ever written me a letter, chances are, it's saved somewhere in a storage box.  I must confess, I was taken aback by just how many there were: from holiday postcards, to birthday cards, to long, rambly updates - the majority hand-written.  My first year at University yielded a gigantic pile - I must've received something in the post nearly every day!

I say this not to brag, but because as I sorted through everything (there's no great order to my archive except  to group by year), I realised that I'm never likely to amass such a stash in the future.  Everything is online now.  Every now and then I'll exchange a hand-written letter with a friend, but mostly, we write emails.

When I was a student, I didn't have a laptop.  My Uni email address was my first proper email address, and while I had access to email via the library or my kind flatmates, often it was just easier to get out my notepaper and write to my friends.  And I think too, most of my family and friends knew that I'd been dreading going off to University, fearing the huge wrench from home.  As it turns out, I loved it pretty much straight away, but I reckon a contributing factor to the volume of post that first year is because those who know me, know that to me words are like hugs, and that I'd likely be in need of many many hugs that first year.

So I decided to keep the lot, for now at least, because they have become a genuine artifact of a era gone by.  (And that definitely reassures the husband.  Although he is trying to convince me to move my journal-writing online too.  Never!!).  And one day, when I have time on my hands, I'll look back through my 'archives' and relish the letters: the handwriting, the events long passed, the dramas, the encouragements, all from a very specific time in my life.

2 comments:

  1. Any mention of goats for sacrifice? :D I had to do a clear out when I was in Yemen and managed to fit my entire childhood/teens into one backpack. That's was an eye opener! And I had to be ruthless when moving houses this summer. But some things you just need to keep. For a rainy day, or those awful moments when packing seems never ending.

    I hope you found some nice memories from Leictser :) xxxx

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  2. I have a huge shoebox of things from Leicester - many good memories in there! Including sacrificial goats, tickets for Mad-Fer-It and Red Leicester and notes from you and the other A21 ladies on post-its!

    It is hard - I'm impressed you managed to condense everything into a backpack. I'm aware that one day I'll have to let go of some more things - no doubt we'll need the space! But til then, as you say, it's nice to hang onto some things for a rainy day. :)

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