Memory banking

{ Tuesday, April 1, 2008 }

I'm a pack rat because I'm afraid of losing my memories. Objects and scraps of paper are time machines. No. They turn me into a time machine. I touch them and am peopled, am an atlas of places down to the last blade of grass, am shivering with textures and smells and with the person I was when this bit of matter mattered to me.

I have invested things with myself, which directly contradicts my wish not to invest my life in things.

When my sister died, some of my saddest moments were sorting through the things that she had kept that were no longer of any use to anyone.

So here's my new project -- making a digital archive of:

  • the useful things I've kept and do not use, before I give them away
  • things that have outlived their use but recall fond memories, before I give or throw them away
It's a slow project, and note -- the things I keep because they make me happy, those have a use.

On a sunny Saturday in Italy, June 1988, my new friend Luisa climbed to the top shelves of her father's toy warehouse and asked our group to call out the animal we would most want to be. "Black panther," I said. I did not know it was on the shelf. She carried it down to me and touched my face. "I also," she said. This black panther knapsack is now in the arms of a child in foster care, thanks to Give What You Got.org.







Some happy slogs in these canvas shoes, from college town streets to the back yard garden to Goleta Beach.

They're in a landfill now outside Santa Barbara.










Finally, four things that make me happy: A quilt that my great-grandmother made. A pillow that my mother embroidered for me. The doll blanket I've had since I was three and upon which the cat Daisy now sleeps while I write. The pink and tan afghan that Adrian crocheted.


And underneath, a fifth thing: the futon that Nitin and I bought the summer of his B-school internship in Saginaw. Daisy was a kitten then and slept with him, and they commuted together to Ann Arbor on the weekends.

2 comments:

Foodie said...

Big smiles because of your beautiful writing.

After you create this archive, get the pictures printed and put them in picture albums.

ann pai said...

Yeah! What a good idea. Even a quick look shows lots of vendors who will create a few copies of a photobook with text, for not much money. So eventually I will have the coffee-table version.

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