preserving memories

When I left home for boarding school, my aunt made me a sweetly beautiful scrapbook of pictures that spanned from my baby years to the week before she gave it to me. I ended up being away for only one year, but I’m glad the possibility of my fleeing the nest forever at 14 moved her to make the book of memories. She made me another when I graduated high school, and I still love to flip slowly through them and remember.

I’m not really a scrapbook girl, though. If I were to purchase all the necessary components, they would languish in some corner or closet until they were dusty and dated. Trust me. I know this about myself.

Despite my certain scrapbook failure, I am drawn to the idea of creating a space to preserve memories, not just for my own nostalgic sake but also to make them more tangible for others. A kid of my own, perhaps. Would they be interested in what their momma was like at 6, 16, 26? I would like to think so.

Last year, there was a spread in Real Simple about creative ways to do just that, which initially got me thinking about coming up with my own “scrapbook” method (I have the article, “Memory Keepers,” but cannot find the link online). Then, I heard Jane Fonda talk about writing her life story–not the celebrity stuff for PR reasons but the personal stuff for personal reasons. Thank you, Jane, for the great idea.

The most natural activity in the world to me (besides sleeping…and maybe eating) is writing. Thinking about writing an autobiography feels a little hokey, especially in your 20s and especially when you live the most boringly normal life. Then, I think about the kids that I don’t have just yet. I think about my own momma. And then, I think that I will do it. The key is to find a unique rhyme and rhythm to the project. For me, that means focusing on critical themes and events that have (and continue to) shape me. I think about the things I would tell my husband if we lying in the sunshine with no where to be and I could talk, talk, talk. I think about the things that would help him understand me better. I think about the things I wish I knew about my parents and the things a daughter or a son might someday wonder about me.

After months of contemplating the idea, getting a start on the project has become one of my goals for the year. My hope is that it will become something of a habit throughout my life, a more focused and elegant form of journaling.

Any other creative ideas for preserving memories and spreading them around?

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