I think I have known that I wanted to be a writer since I was in Grade 2.
As I use this long period of social distancing to finally tackle the room full of mementoes I have accumulated over this lifetime of mine; as I sift through the stuff that past versions of me decided to keep as a snapshot of my life at certain key moments, I am struck by how most of the things that were precious enough for me to keep had something to do with writing.
Some of it is very sweet: there is a diary – the kind made for little girls, with a little lock on the front – that paints a picture of how I filled my days with my friends when I was 10 years old, complete with detailed accounts of nosebleeds, first crushes and little-girl squabbles. There are the innumerable motivational quotes that I once pasted on the bathroom mirror and then tucked away when a new motivational quote took its place. There are hundreds of letters to and from my parents, my grandparents, cherished aunts and uncles and a few cherished friends. I even kept a clumsily handmade grade six newsletter because it includes a poem I wrote: the first time I was ever ‘published’.
I’ve always been a little compulsive about saving all the bits of paper and inanimate objects that imperfectly tell the story – however insignificant – of where I’ve been and what I’ve done.
I kept a great number of mementoes from my working years as well. The best parts of my many years of employment were always when I was called upon to write. My all-time favourite job required me to write grant proposals (Oh, joy!!!) and then, when we got the funding, to act as the project coordinator through to the completion of the project. To my delight, I also got to write up the year-end reports that the government required at the completion of each project. It was many years before I discovered that some people actually hated doing those sorts of jobs. I could not for the life of me imagine why.
The only downside was that I struggled almost my entire working life as a contractual worker. Suffice it to say, I thought I had died and gone straight to heaven the year I finally got a full-time job to do project development. For three full years, I actually got to write almost all day; every day. It was the perfect job for me and I could not believe my good fortune.
There is a reason, though, that we are frequently warned to be careful what we wish for. Contract workers work in solitude. They often take on the jobs no one else wants to do. They tend to be appreciated for exactly that reason. They don’t make many friends but they don’t make many enemies either. Quite late in life, I joined a ‘team’ for the first time in my career, and over the next five years, I would learn that sometimes, ‘teamwork’ is not all that it is cracked up to be. Some teams do not take well to newbies crashing their party.
Since my adrenal-fatigue burn-out five years ago, I have spent a great deal of the last five years in a gentle fog of peace and gratitude, but lately, the hurt and the anger of a lifetime seem to be oozing, unbidden, from my brain and out through my fingers as I set my little story to paper.
It surely hasn’t helped that I decided, once and for all, that I will never have a better reason than a world-wide pandemic to stay indoors and clean out my closets (both figuratively and literally, it would appear). I kept so much stuff! 58 years worth of stuff, to be precise. And because I want this done with, once and for all, I am trying very hard to be reasonable; logical and economical in what I keep and what I discard. My personal goal is to limit all these mementoes I have felt compelled to keep, into one neat scrapbook.
It’s been slow going though. As I take this time to review the good memories along with the bad, the fog has cleared and the poison is just pouring out, unchecked. I have found myself thinking in exclamation points and stopping more frequently than I could ever have imagined to put my surprised thoughts to paper. In particular, what has struck me as I have worked is the tonnage of my own work I have kept from my ‘happy’ years: newspaper articles, stories, (really bad) poems, reports I wrote, train tickets, photos of beloved friends and colleagues.
Strange though, but in the period of my career when I got to do the most writing, I have not kept one report, one article, one scrap of paper that I wrote myself. If not for the lovely notes I received from a great many cherished and supportive colleagues, there would be nothing to even prove that I was there at all.
I know we all have scars. I know that mine are no deeper and no uglier than anyone else’s. I’m just a bit surprised to discover that even subconsciously, I never felt the need to keep mementoes of those times.
The scars have always been reminder enough, I guess.
Patti Moore Wilson © wednesdayschildca.wordpress.com