Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Curating Memories

I like to think I have a pretty good memory.  Birthdays, have them down for at least 100 people.  I remember random parts of guard routines from 15+ years ago and very rarely misplace anything in our house.  But I was recently going through old pictures from high school and college and I was really surprised at all the things, events, and people I had completely forgotten.  And not really things I needed to remember, awkward phases I needed to relive.  (Everyone has an awkward phase in high school, whether they realize it at the time or not, right?) 

I had 8 photo albums covering these 8 years, along with 4 scrapbooks.  That was a prime place for some purging.  I spent a nap time or two going through these hundreds of pictures and getting rid of most of them.  My goal was to consolidate all 8 albums down to one that held 150.  My 150 favorite pictures from those 8 years...other than all in my scrapbooks (baby steps here, people).  It was actually really hard!  Not the first round, or the second, but narrowing it down towards the end, not easy.  Remember these people or those?  This year of high school or that part of college?  (Matt was such a huge part of my college years and since we have a separate album of our dating years...I don't have many pictures from those years...this is also before anyone I knew had a cell phone camera worth printing pictures from and who carried regular cameras all the time??  Oh, wait.  I did.  In high school (I think?).)

I kept telling myself I didn't need to remember every little thing, every party, every single person I talked to.  And I don't.  If I've forgotten there is probably a good reason for that.  The people that are still in my life, I remember.  The people who made a serious impact, I remember.  Every awkward moment from high school?  Well, probably a good reason I didn't remember all of those before the pictures.  Not that I got rid of every slightly dorky picture because I do like remembering the different stages but a lot of pictures got the boot.  I successfully got my pictures cut down to just 150 for the eight years of high school and college.  My favorite pictures, my favorite memories, the people that made the biggest impact on my life, as I remember it.  (Along with mine & Matt's dating album and my aforementioned 4 scrapbooks...)

It's like when I cleaned through my iTunes, reducing my music collection from 3000+ to under 1400.  I had kept every song that I even kinda liked, or brought back even faint memories.  Then I wanted to fit all my music (besides Christmas music) on my 16gig phone at once and did a lot of purging and now I like every single song that comes up on shuffle!  It's really exciting and I mentally compliment myself on my stellar music tastes every time I press play (seriously, I go through and occasionally edit out a few from "up next": a few with inappropriate words around Luke or a few of the Disney songs when I'm at work but other than that, everything that plays I'm happy to hear at any time!).  I have songs that remind me of each of the last 10ish summers but not every single song that reminds myself of every single summer.  But just enough. 

That's pretty much what I keep telling myself as I went through boxes, again.  I don't need to keep the papers showing I knew my parents' (my old) address in kindergarten or every birthday card I ever received (definitely kept every single one from my parents, grandparents, sisters though, along with some other special ones).  I had a surprising amount of old school work, really dating back to preschool.  But I don't need to remember everything I ever did.  So a lot met the recycle bin and if I never remember that report I did in the 3rd grade, well that's ok.  I kept a few things from each grade (like 3-5) and almost all of my high school and college work got dumped (so. much. busy. work.) 

I might be picking and choosing a little about what I want to remember, cutting out some of the awkward or embarrassing stuff but why hold on to that stuff?  Lessons learned, time moved on.  I am much happier with less stuff, my absolute favorites, rather than boxes and boxes of who knows what (I feel another basement purge coming on...)  I'll remember the truly important stuff and will have a few pictures to remember all those lovely, awkward teenage years.

No comments: