Monday 19 September 2011

A trip down memory lane

I like to think that I'm fairly decluttered, but I do have a tendency to hang on to sentimental things. I decided it was time to go through the two shoeboxes that I have stuffed full of old letters, cards and other mementoes in the hope of thinning them out a little bit. 
I spread them out over the dining table, and my entire life was laid out in front of me. 
I had letters from my first best friend, who moved away when I was seven. Letters from a schoolfriend in hospital. Letters from my German penfriend. My first Valentine's Day cards. Letters from penfriends all over the world that I made during the early years of the internet - how funny that we used to write old fashioned letters to each other despite the new technology on our doorsteps! In particular I exchanged long letters with a girl in Canada, we used to pour out our teenage angst to each other in long letters written over several days, usually during lectures at college. 

I found significant Birthday cards, New House cards, Exam Congratulations, Driving Test Congratulations. There were notes from friends left on my door in my first year in halls at University as well as letters from my friends and loved ones back home sent to me during my year out in Germany, in the days before Facebook and Twitter. 

There was the cinema ticket from my first cinema trip with my husband, and the receipt from our first holiday together. There followed Engagement Congratulations, along with all the Valentine's Day and Birthday cards that we have sent each other since.

Old cards and letters

I kept the recycling bin next to my chair, and many times I delved back in to retrieve something. But the trouble with keeping letters from other people is that you are keeping their memories not your own. There are tantalising glimpses, references to things that you have written to them, but the full story is only visible when you see both sides of the correspondence. The only thing I have that I wrote are the letters which I sent to my Grandma while I was in Germany, although they do represent a somewhat sanitised version of events!

It was a real blast from the past to get everything out. I didn't get rid of as much as I expected to. Some of the responses to letters written in my teenage years reminded me of things that I don't need to remember, and it felt cathartic to get rid of them. But there are so many happy memories contained within those boxes, and most things have ended up right back where they started, albeit a little fresher in my mind.

Old cards and letters

Now the next job is to go through all my old teenage diaries. I'd like to re-read them, but not sure I can handle the cringe factor, there is an awful lot of angst contained within those pages!


  1. KEEP IT, KEEP IT, KEEP IT. You will regret it if you throw out things that meant so much to you, and it is only two shoeboxes. Your Dad still has the invitation to the party where we met, say aaaaahhhhhh xoxoxoxoxo

  2. Don't worry, I kept most of it! I kept everything relating to people that are important in my life at the moment!


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