I’m sentimental. I save things – not in a pack rat kind of way – but things that have had significant meaning in my life. I have my report card on my performance as a seven year old, from St. Jago Cathedral Preparatory in Spanish Town, Jamaica that travelled with me to Scarborough, a suburb of Toronto, Ontario, Canada in 1976; and have since, kept sequentially ordered, the report cards from elementary to high school and university. The marks, from the plethora of teachers and their perspectives of me, isn’t my point, in fact I was not an exceptional student, mediocre it would seem on review. But when I think of my sense of self, back then, I thought I was a pretty good student – better than mediocre. Anyhow, I digress, my point is – I save stuff that I hold dear to my heart. These reports, filed in a big, black plastic storage box sits alongside another box, a small wooden one, that once contained sealed pacific smoked salmon that I must have confiscated from my parents, likely some time in my teens. No, it doesn’t smell of fish, in case you were wondering. It’s filled with love letters and cards from my first boyfriend (cherry popper), my former fiancée (not the cherry popper), and another I likely should have married, if hindsight was 2020. There were also, the passionate, spirit filled connections with other men who were significant but not long lasting, more in “the meantime” but life long lessons learned category. Men I loved, and I know loved me. You will find their images, in albums, intertwined at different ages and stages of my life.
I keep stuff. I don’t have these capsules of memories because I pine for their love or regret them not being my forever men. In fact, these letters have made it through other, more mature romantic relationships. And so every few years or so, I come across the treasure chest and read the words and smile to myself, as I feel the warmth and the joy I felt at those very different times in my life.
I keep stuff. This includes humans.
I have these amazing friendships, girlfriends that I’ve had since I was eight years old. One from elementary school and most formed while in university; and others, bonds formed through friends and common interests. Friends I’ve had for over 30 yrs., and of course family from birth that I love with all my heart. They too, have pasts and exes, which brings me to my point and conundrum. In this digital age pictures glide across my monitor as screen savers while I pause at my desk and old school photo albums display pictures of weddings, get-togethers and parties filled with friends and their past, “I can’t see life without him” loves! Some are ex boyfriends and husbands twice or more removed; one is wrapped up in her boyfriend’s arms – face aglow, another is walking down the aisle after saying “I do”; and another I have two sets of her wedding ceremonies to two different men. Of course these moments in time were happy, joyful but clearly the euphoria waned and in some cases turned to hostility. A feeling of hostility so strong that if it wasn’t for the rational fear of doing time in prison their hate would be criminal. The glow of love faded by infidelity, or growth from learning more about oneself and recognizing what doesn’t align for them.
What do I do with these hundreds of pictures? Most certainly some of my girlfriends aren’t as sentimental as I am and have burned their own treasure chests of images, notes and loves gone by.
Do I rip them out of albums, cut their faces out, photoshop them out, or delete photos, in line with what some of my friends have done? After all, those experiences weren’t mine, I was just a bystander, a supporting character, not the protagonist. Or do I keep them and continue to see them as I do : a moment, captured, frozen in time of happiness and some evidence of adventure and growth. Perhaps a treasure chest that we can all rummage through as we sit on our rocking chairs (glasses of wine in hand) reminiscing about life and lessons – laughing, crying, cussing, appreciating lives … lived.