Favorite Things

This post inspired by Lens Artist Challenge #49

The prompt: Favorite Things

~~~

With a focus on things – rather than people or places – my favorites narrowed down to the irreplaceable.

The sentimental things…that connect with my favorite people.

The massive downsizing I endured 3 years ago crystallized what, in theory, I had known all along. The things I let go of…it was just stuff. Not so important after all.

The things I kept…

IMG_9364

Photo albums dating back 40 years…filled with favorite people and places.

And…

Two scrapbook journals. Documenting my children’s school years. From all perspectives. Spaces for tiny handwritten Montessori “books.” School photos. Sample schoolwork. Report cards. Awards won. Games played. Birthdays. Sports. School portraits. Trips. Thoughts. Reflections – as only a young child can voice.

…End of school year answers on the “Favorites” page: Friends…Books…Music…Sports…Teams…Television Shows…Movies and Videos…Clothes…Foods…Places to Go…Things to Do.

And my favorite? Starting in grade 5…Aspirations and Goals 

schoo days

Bindings stretched to the breaking point with details and documents.
Then carefully repaired.

Preserving snapshots of time from preschool to grade 12.

Tucked in the back…college graduations. Marathon stats. Wedding clipping. Post grad honors. Stretched a bit more.

Two childhoods well lived.

Two children well loved.

 

 

 

 

Stories to be told

The universe is made of stories, not of atoms.”

Muriel Rukeyser

 

 

reading on porch
Reading on the porch
age ~ 10

 

 

Stories.

Beginning with…
Mother Goose Rhymes, Grandma Moses’ poems, Little Golden Books, Nancy Drew’s many adventures, the Bobbsey Twins, Trixie Belden, Pippi Longstocking….

All stories I craved as a child. Gobbling them up one after the other.
Why?
Curiosity. Escape. Imagination.
Or maybe because I loved to read.
Storybooks drew me in as nothing else could.

old books

My public elementary school was part of the Scholastic Books program. Students could order paperback books for 25¢ or 35¢ each. Sized just right for a 10 year old with titles such as Encyclopedia BrownDanny Dunn and the Homework MachineJust Plain Maggie. To name just a few. Piled high on tables in the gym on delivery day.  I couldn’t wait.

The school library drew me to its stories as well. Shelves of biographies…”Childhoods of Famous Americans”…were a magnet. Hardcover books mostly about boys (Nathan Hale & Abe Lincoln come to mind), but I did find some about girls. Clara Barton. Helen Keller. Dolly Madison. I didn’t discriminate at the age of 10 or 11 or 12. I read them all. Fascinated by their life stories.

Only famous people had their stories told…at least that’s what I may have assumed. But perhaps it sparked my own urge for story telling. At least in the privacy of my diaries. And letters. Later, the journals kept in college and beyond. Recording my story such as it was. Often painful. And hard to believe. Even upon reading years later.  The telling…written for my eyes only…crucial. Therapeutic. I see that now. Important…even though I certainly wasn’t famous.

Years later I filled notebooks with anecdotes, observations…and stories yet again. But this time about my own children. And our family, as it grew and changed…and then grew and changed some more. A natural continuation of my childhood storytelling. About what happened.

This time, though, joyful. Still striving to capture the essence in a quick pair of sentences…or a paragraph. One page. Maybe two. The setting. The conversation. The humor. The love. The challenges. The delight.

Catching the stories on the page before one day wove into the next. Leaving me breathless to get it on paper. Their imaginations. Their curiosity. And uniqueness.  From foot stomping “do by self” episodes to impromptu conversations about “where do babies come from?” To shopping for clothes. Playing with imaginary basketball teams in the driveway. Getting ready for school. Accidentally shaving off half an eyebrow. Navigating the minefield that is adolescence. How a seven year old plans the future. In her own imaginative way.

Endless stories every day. I wrote when I could. So glad I did.

We are, after all, our stories.

 

This post inspired by V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #37: Story

Gathering

This post is inspired by:

V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #18: Gathering

https://onewomansquest.org/2018/10/08/v-j-s-weekly-challenge-18-gathering/

Turning my attention toward the positive this week…

I am gathering source material. I like the way that sounds…source material. For a very long story about “the house” — or rather, our home, of over 36 years. As I have written about in previous posts (Nest , Photos), my husband and I downsized and moved to a condo a couple of years ago. It was probably the most exhausting thing I have ever done (besides giving birth to two 9 lb+ babies, but that didn’t take as long).

I was more than ready to move. However, our adult children (who had moved out over a decade earlier) were clearly NOT ready for us to move. Especially our daughter. Our nest was their nest, empty (of them) or not. The reality of no childhood home to return to for their (infrequent) visits was jolting. Did they try to talk us out of it? Absolutely not. But their emotional ties were evident. “Coming down the stairs on Christmas morning” together…(every single year) would come to an end. The “remember whens” without the familiar backdrop of home…hard to imagine. Our new grandson would not be able to run around in his mama’s old backyard.

On the final day before the sale, I toured the empty house on facetime with my long distance 34 year old daughter.  We shared a last look at the rooms she grew up in…and some memories of each. Both of us in tears.

I then realized the enormity of this home’s real significance in our lives. But mostly in our kids’ lives. This surprised me since I never had any deep emotional ties to my childhood homes. None at all. I could not fully understand their attachment. How deep it is.

I am going to write about those 36 1/2 years. For them. For us. For me. A story…the house that became a home and what happened. I am very curious to see what evolves.

But first I need to begin gathering my materials (after shopping at my favorite office supply store):

  • Hanging file folders. One for each year – to sort & organize.

gathering files

  • Calendars for 37 years – chronicling all our activities. Each one a diary in itself.

calendars

 

  • Photographs. Lots.

gatheringphotos

  • Journals.
  • Letters – still gathering.
  • File boxes of house receipts and info that escaped shredding.

Once gathered, let the writing begin.

And…
I am so glad I saved all this stuff!

 

Diaries Revisited – 2018

diaries line up

My writing life started with diaries – the kind with the tiny keys. Keys implying a privacy that wasn’t actually possible. But which gave a 9 year old a sense of importance. Tucking away private thoughts in a safe space. A comforting fantasy. Trusting that the key really worked.

As I got older, diaries (keys long gone) were followed by small spiral lined notebooks (written with an orange Flair pen – this was, after all, the ’70’s). Next… black hardcover “blank books.” And then back to small spiral notebooks and thick journals. I actually preferred the printed lines to guide my sometimes erratic handwriting; angled in anger or loopy with emotion. I went through a calligraphy stage in college and carefully inked my thoughts with spaced precision. An art form! And since I was the sister who was NOT the artist, I felt mighty proud about that.

My good friend Debbie gave me a new 8 1/2″ x 11″ black blank book when we were both 20 and about to start sharing an apartment – a first for both of us. We would finish up our last 1 & 1/2 years of college together.

She filled the first page:

Here is the book you wanted. It means so much to have a book like this…to write down thoughts, feelings….watch how you grow, how your feelings change and how much more aware you become when you read back through it… 

The second and third pages contained Pink Floyd lyrics from “Dark Side of the Moon.”

Breathe, breathe, in the air…Don’t be afraid to care…Leave, but don’t leave me…Look around and choose your own ground…. 

I followed Debbie’s directions and kept filling that journal off and on for almost 18 years. (It didn’t come with a key. I wonder if it should have.) I was as open with my written words at 20 and 25 and 30 as I was at 9 and 10. Kind of shocking really. And now sometimes embarrassing – and painful – to see my heart splayed open on the page over and over, year after year.

Entries became sporadic and eventually just covered major life events – or the night before major life events – as I pondered their significance. Marriage. Career. Parenthood. Family dramas. Joy. Grief. Loss. I started and stopped various notebooks, journals and blank books. A brand new one always a hard-to-resist invitation to begin again. Maybe it was the fresh, smooth paper & its possibilities…like getting new notebook paper, pens and pencils for the start of school each September.

At the ripe old age of 27 – about 2 weeks before the birth of my first child I wrote…

It seems that the older I get, the faster life goes by…We Are Going To Be Parents!!…It will probably be the most important thing we do….”   

The next entry (in that journal) was 10 years later when I had a weekend away by myself.  By then I had a second child and a consulting job. I was still in my thirties. The 4 page summary began with…

Motherhood has changed my life more than anything else before it. 

And ended with…

After all these years I’m finally starting to acknowledge that there’s another side of me that’s been buried – perhaps a more creative side – I’m not sure…”   

Looking back, I was spot-on about the motherhood thing.

…I also have several well worn notebooks filled with stories of all the amazing, funny, and truly one of a kind things my 2 children ever said or did.

Truly like no other kid ever in the history of the world. Obviously. For example: How many 8 year old boys do you know who can make an earring out of a Cheerio?  And whose mother wrote a story about it?

I couldn’t help myself. It was such fun….