Monday, January 16, 2012

free-write: on rediscovering

Looking for something a former-me wrote, I slid my 2009 journal off my shelf. It's a thin volume of lined (always lined) cream-colored pages with a bright woven fabric covering reminiscent of those pot holders we used to make as children (remember those?). I bought it from the clearance bin at Urban Outfitters in Santa Barbara for $4.95 and then couldn't decide if it was ugly or not, so it sat on my shelf, empty and stiff, for some time. Journals are to me what shoes are to most women: I can't resist a deal and sometimes that can lead to buyers remorse. 

Finally I decided that at the very least it was fit for scraps of information that didn't fit anywhere in the neat, tidy, narrative-only journals I used to keep. I started with recipes, an email address, and directions to I don't know where. My idea-collecting evolved to include church notes, weekend to-do lists, prayer items and taped blurbs cut from magazines, even poems, anything from mundane to inspiring. Soon it bulged with all the extra papers I stuff inside the front cover and I wrapped it with a rubber-band to contain it. Bursting -- this is what I wanted my imagination to be. I took it everywhere, and it held everything that was important to me. It's bright, ugly colors soon became endearing because it was unique and bold and sure of itself in an overstated way.

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A few weeks back, I did one final desperate search for a passport I haven't seen since two apartments ago. We had just finished dinner, the house was warm and dimly lit, and my housemates all sat contentedly in the living room, reading or playing on their iphones. And I, feeling lazy and a bit lonely, tried to guilt-trip them into helping me look for it. Drudgery is always easier with company. One housemate graciously obliged and sat on my bedroom floor to keep me company as I pulled out old shoeboxes and containers to root through. The search included my old green plastic expanding file, one I've had for nearly 10 years and haven't looked through in at least 3. Started before the time of google reader, pinterest and bottomless email storage, I used to print out articles, or rip them from magazines, and even cut them from newspapers, information I knew I'd want to access someday. There was an LA Times article on slums, the piece written and read by my cousin from my Nana's funeral, and an update letter I wrote to family and friends after my trip to Manila. My housemate and I laughed at some of the things I'd saved, but I also held those remnants with great care, and afterward put them back in the file, because I knew the girl who had collected those things. I can look back now and marvel at what she was trying to do, who she was trying to be. Even if I'm not sure she would recognize me, that night I remembered with respect and a bit of awe what she was like.


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