I keep memories like some people keep teacups, or shoes, or cats. They gather, in various forms, in all of the corners of my life. I have photographs stuck into the space between my mirror and its frame, or wedged into a picture holder. I keep them in closets, in frames, stuck between the pages of a book. I treat them with a certain off-hand reverence. Though I feel no need to look at them regularly, or even organise them, I can't imagine ever getting rid of one. (The advent of digital photography was fabulous for me. I take thousands of photos, and scrapbook my life in explosions of sticker letters and cut out paper.) I keep posters from plays in which I acted, programmes of performances I saw, ticket stubs, meaningful papers of every kind. I even have the receipt from the first legal alcohol I bought (bottle of rose, in London). They collect dust, these memories, just as I collect them. On one wall of my bedroom is a map of the world, surrounded entirely by postcards-- those I have bought myself, and those others have sent me. We have a dance, these postcards and I; I stick them up, they fall down. We repeat the process.
We're not talking about anything outrageous, exactly. I don't have mountains of flimsy paper memories, waiting to crush me with not only the the weight of their Extreme Emotional Importance, but also their physical mass. I'm not The Crazy Memory Lady, not yet. I just... like to remember.
It wasn't until fairly recently that I realised why I do this. Other people are capable of having experiences without needing to document every moment or save every memento. Other people pull out their cameras rarely, never save ticket stubs, return their programmes to be recycled. I don't. I could. But I don't.
In the past 25 years of my life, I have resided in 8 different cities. I've lived in 12 houses and apartments and 4 dorm rooms. I've gone to two preschools, two elementary schools, two middle schools, two high schools, and one divine college. I'll start graduate school in just a few days. This life thing... it goes by fast, guys. The places that are so important, the people who make your world, they aren't there forever. Well, that sounds morbid. I don't mean they all up and DIE (though, of course, we all do eventually. HA now it's definitely morbid), just that we don't spend all of our lives surrounded by the people by whom we would love to be surrounded. That's not tragedy, that's opportunity, and adventure, and growth... but it still means there is room for Memories.
I treasure my memories of my growing up years, and I don't need photographs (or postcards, ticket stubs, and receipts) to remember a lot of it. But some recollections come back even stronger when paired with a visual. I know this. Sometimes I look around at my life, the one I'm living right now, and think, "I'll miss this someday." It's not sad, it just makes the moment sweeter. Nothing lasts forever. That's good; it means we have to learn to appreciate everything.
Nothing lasts forever... except, I hope, my memories.