Several weeks ago, after a heavy rain, I discovered that water had seeped into our basement and damaged a couple of cardboard boxes that had been lying around for far too long. So on Sunday, Al and I finally got around to sorting through the contents, to see what, if anything, was worth salvaging.
Now, of the two of us, I tend to be the one who wants to get rid of stuff that we no longer need. But one of the boxes contained items I was loathe to part with: all my old calendars and planners. Fortunately, my husband humored me, especially since I was able to find a place to store them, in chronological order—half a drawer in an old filing cabinet in the basement.
Why bother? you may well ask. The thing is, those calendars are a record of my life. Even as I have kept journals on and off over the years, I have always kept calendars. And this batch dates back to my freshman year in college. There are notes about deadlines for college papers, the weekend I almost broke up with my high school boyfriend (that happened a month later), searching for my first apartment in grad school, interviews I did while working as a journalist, preparing for my wedding to Al. There are also cryptic entries about the time, right after Thanksgiving the first year we were married, that Al had to have emergency surgery because his spleen ruptured from mono. These are landmarks of a lifetime.
At some point, I know I’ll need to part with them. When we finally downsize someday, there will not be room for all the memorabilia. As it is, I have my old college footlocker filled with journals dating back to sixth grade. And more journals on shelves in my office. Plus all my bullet journals of the past several years. Every so often, I’ll have a reason to dig back into them, to find when I did what.
All the more so, as my memory is not as sharp as it once was. My rheumatologists tell me that scleroderma can cause brain fog (beyond the aging process) and I definitely feel it settling in, a very unwelcome guest.
Do all the details really matter? I don’t know. Writing things down has always been my way to preserve the present and plan for the future. Now, all those notes, accumulated over decades, are my keys to recalling my past. And I’m just not ready to throw them away.