It’s been really interesting to reflect over the last few weeks on the roots of my memory keeping. My travel chronicles and photo books probably bear the closest resemblance to the kind of memory keeping I do these days, but I can’t go past snail mail as an important part of how I used to keep records and tell stories.
I wrote a lot of letters as a kid. I’m of the generation that didn’t get access to email til our later teens, so paper letters were how I shared my tales with pen pals, aunties, and even friends that I regularly saw in person.
I often started diaries, but didn’t trust the adults in my life enough to be very open or honest in the things I committed to paper in the home. They generally fell by the wayside pretty quickly because they had to stay superficial and uninteresting.
Letters were where I poured my little heart out, and they were the medium through which I was able to tell my stories.
And the stories went both ways, too.
I have never thrown letters or cards away – whether they’re christmas or birthday greetings, love letters, or just notes to say hello, they all get tucked away in a box for posterity.
These have become an amazing collection of historical artefacts. They’re a record of my friendships and relationships over time. They tell the tales of the big events in my life, and lots of the mundane ones too. It’s really amazing to look through the box sometimes, and find words of love, encouragement, and happiness speaking across the years.
I love the way I do memory keeping these days. My pocket albums give me joy in the creation, and in the revisitation. And I think it’s important to look at them in the context of a long and changing life as a storyteller.