People and Things That Went Before

Each time we go to the library or charity shop or recycling center with another pile of boxes, P jokes, a little bit mournfully, “there goes some more of my life.” Of course then I say “well don’t throw it away if you don’t want to” and he says he does want to, so off we go and then as we drive away he says “Bye bye life.”

I know what he means – all that stuff was accumulated over years and years and it all brings back memories. But in a way, far from throwing away our past, I feel as though we’re reconnecting with it through this process.

Think about how many boxes or suitcases of stuff you have stored away somewhere that you haven’t opened for years. Perhaps you have a vague sense of what’s in there as I did, but if you were to open them and sort through them carefully, I bet you’d be amazed at all the stuff you’ve forgotten. And yes, most of it will be useless and probably needs to go, but the act of rediscovering some of it will change things.

A few weeks ago, I sorted through a box of old letters that we received after we first left England and moved to Canada. It took me days because I looked at every one of them, and read a good many of them from start to finish. Among them were a few letters from my old friend Chris. Chris dated one of my closest friends in college, and eventually moved in with her. And for reasons I can’t quite remember now, but probably having to do with a collective lack of money, I moved in with them too. Chris and I got on from the very beginning although we argued a lot too, which was entirely his fault and not at all mine because obviously I was a delight to live with.

But despite our arguments we really did like each other. Which is something I had forgotten about until I found one of the letters he sent to me in Toronto and found myself laughing out loud. Having been out of touch for 16 years, I had no idea where he was living but I managed to track him down via Google, LinkedIn and 911.com and happily he answered my email. It turns out he spent time in Scotland and Scandinavia, but is now happily back in Blighty with his wife. He’s still argumentative and idealogically unsound, but he still writes letters (well, emails now) that make me laugh out loud. Had I not gone through that box, we would never have rekindled our friendship and I wouldn’t have anyone to argue about UK elections with.

Now if only I could find my UK driving license in one of these boxes, life would be perfect.

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