Historians

attic via kimberlyanncoyle.com

The house is quiet. I woke up and lay in bed alone for an hour thinking my thoughts. When I have time and silence, it’s always a surprise what shows up. Memories scramble out from the dusty attic of my middle-aged brain, memories I haven’t thought about in a long time–the day my twenty-one year old boyfriend (now husband) asked my Dad for permission to marry me, my son’s beta fish Dirk, once alive now very much dead, slow runs on the treadmill while my three-year old watched Barbie movies with me in the basement. I can quote every song in Barbie and The Three Musketeers, and I’m not ashamed to admit it.

There are so many memories to unpack, so many trunks to open, and treasures to rediscover. I wish I was one of these people who journal the everyday details of their lives, but by the time I think about journaling my day, I’ve lost the will to remember. Somehow it all gets lost in the shuffle and bustle of the day, the forward thinking, the what comes next.

My favorite subject in school (after English) was always History. My favorite genre of books is historical fiction, I’ve taken classes in art history, I once dreamed of becoming an archeologist, and I secretly think living in the Frick Museum after-hours is a totally reasonable life goal. I love everything about the past, and I try to  find a way to see through the ugliness because it reminds me we are all the same. We’re all messy and complicated and brilliant and strange. Discovering other people’s stories gave me the most shivery sense of pleasure, a sense of expectation. I still get butterflies in my stomach at museums, as if I’ve just parted the fur coats and walked through the wardrobe into a different world.

So it strikes me as strange that I am so careful with other people’s memories, and so cavalier with my own. I suppose this is the thread I tug at when I write, I write to unravel these memories tied up in the rafters. I’ve been told my writing is too much memoir, not enough reader take-away, at least when it comes to real-life publishing as opposed to throwing words to the wind on the internet. I suppose I have to be ok with this because it’s the way I’m wired. Also, I’m the only historian my children have when it comes to the daily-ness of our lives. I want to leave a small trunk of treasures for them. And while I can’t always offer you ten tips for a more joyful life or five steps to thinner thighs, I like to think reading here helps you tug at the threads of your own life, and there you discover treasures of your own.

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  • Mark Allman

    I think it is important to talk about your memories as a family. It helps to reinforce them in everybody’s memory and most of them are enjoyable to recall. Part of relishing life involves making memories out of the moments we are given and the recall of them washes over us and warms and magnifies our lives again. When someone talks about their memory it is a springboard into your own pool of memories.