Life is one giant jukebox. Lyrics filter in and out, providing a backdrop for the stories playing out in our lives. A favorite song plays for a little white before it ends, leaving you waiting for it to play again or better yet, be replaced by an even better rhythm - though you never quite forget your love of the original. Oldies but goodies find more playtime and you remember, with a smile or perhaps sometimes a tear, the moments you danced to that sweet melody. Then a new song comes on and makes you grateful for yet one more track to dance to.
That’s exactly how I’ve felt cleaning out what has fondly been called in my household "The Bins.”
You see, I moved out of my parent’s home in 2002. Before I’d even received my college diploma, I’d signed the paperwork for my own house. In a hurry to start life in the real world and forget about some sub-standard personal choices I'd made in college, I tossed a ton of pictures, cards, books, awards, and mementos into bins and moved most of them into my basement with dreams of a fresh start. When I moved again five years later with my new husband, we moved the bins with to a new basement - again.
And they sat. Again.
Over the past couple years, I’ve only cleaned out a couple. (There are a lot, embarrassingly. I am a sentimental person. And a writer. Cut me some slack!) When I start sorting through a bin, I begin reading letter after letter and before I know it I’ve wasted so much time that I don’t even get the intended task done. Then this weekend, I opened a bin and an old, familiar song started to play until a giant scratch in the record forced its retirement. Some of my favorite photos from the past were ruined, and I was truly heartbroken. Really, really sad. I know many would probably think it ridiculous that some paper and photos could break a heart but here’s the thing: I don’t collect things. I don’t collect figurines or other trinkets. I collect moments, scenes in time that are of importance to me (okay, and some just to document ridiculous fashion and wonder why good friends let others style their hair in awful ways like the photo above).
In fact, most places I go, no one else brings a camera because it is assumed I will have one to document whatever event it is. I'm THAT person.
I know not all people are sentimental. In fact, my husband is not a sentimental person. He is a sweet man, but he is not one to hang onto mementos or photos. So sitting alone and sorting, I found a few tears falling for a sadness others might not understand. They’re just photos, I reminded myself, and I clearly remember the moments they represent. A first concert with friends; hugging a high school sweetheart on the field after they won the state championship; cruising in a friend’s convertible to another summer party. All different songs in a very long playlist from life.
I don’t look back on these items and wish I was back there; there’s no point in living in the past. Where I am now, surrounded by dance recitals and baseball games and new friends that have been made over the years, is exactly where I want to be. But these moments are all very special memories of some pretty incredible times in my life that I am happy to remember. Friends that made me laugh until Dr. Pepper came out my nose; a boy who made everyone better just for knowing him; a friend who is no longer here to talk to because life took her far too soon (that's her above, helping me assemble furniture at my first house).
People come and go and while I perhaps wish I was still closer to some, the bottom line is that I am so unbelievably happy to have had the experiences I did and to have known some very special people who will forever remain a part of my heart. (I wish I was better at reaching out to old friends but even with today's technology... I'm a bit of a coward!)
While I had to retire the records of a few extraordinary soundtracks last night, their melody will always play on in my heart.
Back when I could shake my booty.
Friends through so many ups and downs.
We need proof of our mediocre fashion choices.