Sunday, March 12, 2006

Memory Lane

I'm in the process of cleaning the room that will soon become my own office. For months we've been stashing boxes in here, knowing the room wouldn't be used until Abby was born and I was ready to start writing again. Well, that time has come, but first I must clean.

There's a box in here filled with stuff that was originally in Abby's room. When we cleaned out her room, the box of stuff we needed to keep was put in here, so I'm going through it now to try to find homes for all the stuff inside. One of the items has floated from box to box, room to room, since 1992. It is my sophomore year (of high school) assignment notebook.

Why the deuce, you may be asking yourself, does she still have that?! I'm asking myself the same question, and you'd think that, since an answer is not easily determined, it would be no problem to toss it in the trash and be done with it. But I just can't do it. And I think it's because I'm a slave to my memories.

There are dot matrix-printed lyrics to worship songs taped to the inside cover, songs that we sang at the high school service at church. There are penciled hall passes with ink signatures from our choir director, perfect for getting access to anywhere, anytime at Rolling Meadows High School. And on nearly every page, especially in those useless address book pages in the back (who puts addresses in the back of a book meant only to last a year?) are notes back and forth between Meg Ryan and myself.

No, not that Meg Ryan. The Meg Ryan who is now Meg Gronau who just had Baby Eddie last week, as noted in the previous blog posting. Meg was my closest friend that year, and we both shared a passion for writing, not just in our assignment notebooks, but on stories that we co-wrote during study hall and lunch and other dead times during the day. She was--and still is--hilarious, and quirky in all the best ways, and very creative.

When I read those notes about silly things and mundane things and things that were riotously funny at the time but now mean nothing to me, I'm reminded of how simple life was then and how much possibly lay before us like a wide-open prairie. It reminds me of a time of less responsibility and more play, of a time when you got to see your friends every day because they were in classes with you and not thousands of miles away with jobs and husbands and kids. There were no paychecks to work for--unless you wanted to--no utilities to pay, groceries to buy, children to worry about. Will I get a date for Homecoming? a part in the musical? a decent grade on my geometry test? Oh, to have such trifling worries now!

So I guess that's why I can't just up and toss this ratty old book. It's not just the memroies themselves, it's the sense of freedom and anticipation about the future that they bring back to me. I read those notes, those assignment explanations and appointments, and I'm taken back to sixteen, a place that, for all its heartaches and life lessons, was not so bad. So the book will get put back in the box, or some other box where I can hide my memories so that, one day, Abby will have something to look at on a rainy day.

Abby is sprawled on my bed, lazily observing me as I fold the laundry. "Mom, tell me about when you were a kid."

I smile. "Kind of a broad topic. Which part?"

"I dunno. Whatever part you want."

I set another T-shirt on the pile as I consider her request, then remember the box on the shelf in the closet. "How about I give you a glimpse of my high school years?" I retrieve the box and set it beside Abby, who is now upright and eagerly removes the lid.

She rummages through the theater programs, birthday cards and newspaper clippings before removing a navy blue notebook. "What's this thing with the Greenpeace sticker on it?"

"Ah, that's my assignment notebook from my sophomore year."

Abby flips it open and inspects the front cover, then turns the pages slowly. "Why does it say 'Pippin' on October 18th? And whose handwriting is this all over your book? And what's a V-Show?"

I put down a sweater and smile. "Oh wow, my assignment book. I haven't seen that in years! Let's see...well, Pippin was the musical that year that I desperately wanted to be in but didn't audition for because I was too chicken...V-Show stands for Variety Show; it was the talent show they did a couple times a year, and I
was in that. And the other person's handwriting was from my friend Meg..."

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