Saturday, January 2, 2010

Sorting Memories

So my ex moved to a new apartment this weekend and found a few boxes of my things that had inadvertently gone to him when we split. Living in a shoebox as I do, I've been going through the boxes all day long so I can get them out of my livingroom as quickly as possible. It's been a trying day.

At this point in my life, I still see my marriage as something that I failed miserably at. I went through the boxes and found receipts and pamphlets from the several get-rich-quick and personal business opportunities that A and I invested in. We literally dumped thousands of dollars on Mary Kay cosmetics, ACN phone company, real estate investment companies and financial advisers. I winced each time I pulled out an item we had put so much hope and expectancy into and that had ultimately only caused us to lose more money. I'm not saying these businesses have never been successful for some, but my ex and I had to learn the hard way at least three different times to figure out that we're just not good at sales. What's worse, each of these ventures caused all kinds of friction in our marriage as we would blame the other one for wasting so much money and time on something that we knew they weren't going to succeed at.

Other boxes are full of cards and letters. Some of them from well-wishers when we got married, some of them to and from each other when we were dating or first married. Some of them from my mom. But most all of them painful reminders of a me that I don't really even remember. I look back on the time that those letters recall as one of doubt and fear. I don't remember the happy, love-smitten, spiritual giant that they describe. It's kept me wondering all day which was more authentic, the person all those cards and letters are talking to or the person that I remember?

Still other boxes are full of baby blankets that people made for our oldest son when he was born. I assume I received these simply because my ex didn't want to have to store them anymore. Still, they bring back ambivalent times. The months leading up to, during and after T's birth are some of the most painful and dark in my recent memory. They exposed a side of my ex that I hadn't known existed up to that point. The happy puppies and teddy bears on the blue and yellow backgrounds just seem flat and burdensome now.

So I guess ultimately what I'm asking is, what do I do with all this stuff? I have such limited space. My little apartment is already bursting at the seams with papers and pictures that the boys bring home from school and daycare. There's not a lot of room for much more. But at the same time, I'm reluctant to get rid of everything in those boxes. As painful as the memories are, they were a real part of my life, and I feel a need to hang on to some of it. Suggestions for sorting through all this mess would be great. How do you decide which memories to keep and which ones to toss?

7 comments:

Nick Wheeler said...

I feel the same way about my mission stuff. It all sits in a single tupperware tote at the bottom of my closet. I wonder who that person was when I read my journals.

Janelle Johnson said...

It sounds like you already decided that you want to keep some and discard some. I think that is a start. Throw out what you know you definitely don't want to keep and then see what remains.
And I was wondering while you wrote about the two different "Lessie"s. Could they exist at the same time? Or not? I really don't know. It just made me wonder.

Lessie said...

Nick, that's a really good idea about the tote. I'll have to go through some of the other boxes of stuff I already had from that period and maybe consolidate it to one box.

Janelle, I think to an extent, you're right. They did/could exist at the same time. I was definitely more committed to the church during that period than at any other time. But at the same time, my life was unraveling pretty quickly during those years. As committed as I was, I was growing farther and farther away from any previous connection I had felt I had with "God". And I certainly didn't feel safe admitting to my doubts and fears, so the people writing me those letters only saw what I wanted them to.

mfranti said...

i like the tote idea too. i have one for hs, another for my married life and another for my days as a broker in ca(lots of party pictures)

even though you may not want to see that stuff, lessie, your boys and grandchildren will be tickled to find some of the mementos of their mom and dad's life together.

Chandelle said...

I think it could be really important for your kids to have some of those things available to them when they grow up. I know *nothing* about my birth mother's relationship with my father except a lot of hearsay, AKA bullshit. I'll never know what their marriage was like, why they really got married, how they met, how they felt about each other when things were good, or how it imploded in the end. I've always wished for a way to answer some of those questions. Hard copy would be more than I could ever hope. So keep what seems pertinent to the questions your sons will inevitably have, even if it's painful for you - that's their history, too.

D'Arcy said...

It's disconcerting, isn't it? Did you ever see that wonderfully cheesy movie "Somewhere in Time" with Christopher Reeves and Jane Seymour. It was a huge hit in my house when I was younger. Remember when he finds the penny from the future and it transports him back? I found an American dime in my wallet yesterday and felt like I was going to go back to the life I just gave up.

Having recently packed up a whole house and consolidated my life into four suitcases, I know how hard it is to decide on the memories.

I think you know what to keep or not. The totes a good idea. I ahve one from my mission days as well, though i've thought several times of tossing it.

G said...

those boxes would scare the hell out of me. Like nick, i have a few of my own boxes full of reminders of who I was. I haven't opened them in years. But I also don't get rid of them.

I wish I had better advice. my thoughts are with you.