Musings From a Journey Into the Past

by Ekua on June 12, 2011 in musings

I’ve been neglecting this blog lately. I’ve been preparing for my upcoming trip and I’ve also been out of the city a lot. I’ve been spending time at home-home, waist deep in everything I accumulated from grade school through college, give or take a few years.

I’ve been trashing and recycling, giving away and selling, taking a few things with me back to San Francisco, and condensing what will go into storage into six boxes. It’s been a monumental and tiring task. It’s also a rarely traveled path for a person on the go; it’s a trip through accumulated stuff, permanence, and who you’ve been rather than who you want to become.

While I was on this strange, introspective journey into the past, there were some recurring themes:

It’s nice to get older…

I know I’m far from old and wise, but I definitely not the angsty teen I once was. While there were factors that made where I grew up a challenging place for me to maneuver, when I looked at notes and journal entries from my preteen and teen days, I saw the ample angst and zero perspective that are characteristic of kids of that age. It made me cringe repeatedly as I was going through my stuff. While the dramatic side of my personality will probably always be there to some degree (and at some point, I might look back at me now and cringe), it’s nice to know that I have grown up in some ways.

But I wish I could’ve held on to some of my childhood creativity.

When you’re a kid, things like logic and reality don’t matter as much. I loved reading the fanciful stories I used to write for school assignments. They were fully honest, inventive, and impractical. I want to channel that girl more often.

Travel and writing have been my loves for a looong time.

It seems that in every bio I wrote in grade school, I included, “I hope to travel the world someday.” I doubt I knew what that really meant back then, but I’m glad I’m fulfilling what appears to be my number one childhood dream.

Looking at my old school work, I can see that I put the most effort into writing assignments that involved different times and places. It’s apparent that for a couple decades, I’ve been wanting know the world and write about it.

I’m surrounded by really great people.

As a traveler, there’s a lot of emphasis on the fleeting and newness and the vitality that comes with that. But in whatever form they come in, life is not complete without people to hold on to.

I know my family is pretty much obligated to me, but I found so many things that made me smile. My parents’ eyes sparkling in photos of our little family trips here and there; those excursions that contributed to my current love of exploration. Pictures of my older sister as a toddler coddling my baby self. Teasing birthday cards from my sister that display our shared sense of humor. Notes from my parents sent to my college dorm room, just to wish me good luck on my finals. Little things that just simply demonstrate, “family” to me through caring and shared loves.

When it comes to my friendships, I know how long I’ve been friends with people, but what does that really mean? I looked at elaborately folded silly notes passed in middle school between a friend and I, and a high school yearbook where that friend asked me to be at her future wedding. And I’ll be there later this year. I looked at group photos of friends at carefree college outings and sympathy cards from those same friends when life unexpectedly turned after college. Looking at these things, I understand and appreciate the wonder of friendship.

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At this point, you probably won’t be surprised when I tell you that I’ve been known to be a bit of packrat. I’ve been slowly reforming, probably because of deeper transformation that has come with traveling and attempting to travel lightly. Stuff weighs you down in more than one way. But I still can’t get over my love for paper stuff and photo stuff and the memories they contain — the people who’ve always been there for you, the people you’ve been, the reminders of who you’ll always be.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Odysseus June 21, 2011 at 12:29 am

I’m the same way, a secret packrat, especially with paper items — old paperdolls, journals, photos, brochures, high school and college awards. I hoard every scrap of paper I’ve ever had.

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Ekua June 21, 2011 at 7:25 pm

Yes, it might look like trash, but in going through some of that stuff, I really remembered why I held on to it in the first place!

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