Went through my old stuff from ‘back in the day.’ Talking about all the way back from elementary school, high school, college etc. Stuffed animals, old clothes, photos, yearbooks– but a lot of one-off objects that evoke strong memories.
The easy stuff to reminisce about is technology: Old personal CD players; a 256 MB mp3 player; point-and-shoot cameras; etc. Technology is just a tool in the hands of the user, after all.
This was once state-of-the-art technology. Now it’s obsolete.
Then there are the darker objects. A roach from high school. Caffeine pills I took to stay up during exams in college. The former, not so bad. The latter was my attempt to stay focused academically and compensate for my growing lack of interest in what I had been studying.
The “other” box with a rooster on it!
Some things remind me about how I used to be, what I used to believe in: Guitars, guitar strings, picks, patch cords. I seriously wanted to be a rock star in high school. Never even came close, but I learned a few interesting licks & chords. Out of practice now, since I long since gave up on that dream.
The yearbooks are an easy route to past nostalgia. The main thing to remember is that our viewpoint of the past tends to be contaminated. One or two experiences (positive or negative) can taint our perception of multiple years/experiences. There are a few people I wonder about, but for the most part, what’s gone is gone and can’t ever be replaced. Some girls I remember as teenagers have gotten married and/or had kids. Teachers have retired (in some cases, this is a good thing) or have moved to different school boards.
There are, of course, boxes and boxes full of old newspapers and magazines containing my articles. This would be my success pile, because I really enjoyed getting published. What happened to the other writers from college? I think many went into PR/communications, a few are doing journalism, and a small minority published books. Obviously, I’ll collect many more boxes like this throughout future years. The names of some of my peers will continue to make bylines and others will vanish completely from the public sphere.
Author Patrick Conroy once wrote that having an unhappy childhood is the best thing that can happen to a writer. Maybe it leads to development of imagination. My loneliness certainly led me to read a great number of books, magazines and newspapers. I certainly would never be able to match my past literary consumption today; with the advent of the internet, I’m sure fewer teens curl up with a book (although they probably still feel alone as social media addicts).
To really be a writer, you have to live in the past. Pound for Pound contains memories of my years in the fight game. There are famous events that get replayed constantly, including Mike Tyson fights from decades ago. But I have other personal memories that haunt me, and that can be dangerous.
There’s the reality of the fighter going into a bout, getting trounced and having the hard reality hit them that they just don’t have it anymore. The same is true for past relationships: Nothing can rekindle the romance when it’s over, and youth really is a fleeting thing.
All that being said, I threw out a lot of items; organized and cleaned up others. But mostly, the memories will continue to reside in boxes, desk/dresser drawers, closets and other tucked away spaces. As time passes, I will need more space for more objects.