The pile lies before me in a daunting mountain as I sprawl on the carpeted floor of my office. The papers glitter with patterns and textual swirls the decorate years and years worth of notes. I must face the truth: The time has come to part with precious things I’ve stashed away.
I am a pack rat when it comes to preserving pieces of the written word.
When my closets recently underwent an organizational tsunami, what rose to the crest of my cleaning wave was my box (okay, fine, it was an embarrassingly large heap) of saved notes.
I found the long, heartfelt silly account of summer camp, written by a dear friend on the back of soup labels. I refolded it with a smile. This I would still keep.
My heart twinged as I turned over the card penned on my high school graduation by the first boy I loved. I read it one more time, then dropped it into the pile that would leave my home.
I unfurled the list of snarky marriage advice, written in tongue-in-cheek style for my bridal shower by my then-unwed cousin, and laughed hard enough to jerk tears into my eyes. This I also saved.
My treasure notes lay buried among stacks of cards with messages that held no enduring value to me.
Some of these notes are signed by people I’ve stopped speaking to. We’ve grown apart, moved on, or taken different paths in life.
Am I the same person today who these letters were once written to?
Sure, I recognize my brother’s goofy humor from his postcards, and my best friend’s strong voice of passionate encouragement still sounds familiar, but were these letters written to a past self who I once was, someone who I’ve outgrown like an old reptile skin, but who still vaguely resembles the woman called “Elise”?
As I “traveled back in time,” I felt emotions resurface that I’d suppressed and forgotten. When I tossed the notes aside, I released their authors into the past, perhaps never to return…or perhaps they will, but hoarding old notes won’t be the deciding factor.
I remembered who I was, who I am, and made room for the woman I’ll still become. And all because I cleared out some old letters.
Have you had a similar “time travel” experience while cleaning out your house (i.e. your closet or under your bed)?