So much of my life lives on paper.
In letters, in cards, on glossy, on matte.
Inside once locked hardcover journals, there are words scratched in anger, in pain, and occasionally, in radical amazement.
Inside carefully categorized photo albums, there are faces I used to recognize, love, envy.
Most of it — my life on paper — reflects only what was once the drama of my life. For this is what we photograph. Parties, graduations, weddings. And this is what we journal. Love, loss, confusion.
Drama. It’s indeed the drama that compels us to document, to reflect.
But, as I’ve discovered through digging in my cardboard boxes, there is another side to my life lived on paper.
Surrounded by doodles in spiral bound notebooks is the every day life I lived once, in between the drama. Errands I had to run. People I agreed to meet. Tasks I needed to complete.
In pen, in pencil, and in sparkly marker, there they live. All those moments in between.
As notes to self.
“Send confirmation fax to Mark about disclosure.”
“Laurie’s new phone in L.A.”
“Talk to NH about DA after conf. call.”
All of it meant something once. All of it familiar enough to allow for shorthand. All of it important enough at the time to require a note. Now the majority of it is meaningless.
Maybe. Maybe not.
The mundane is, perhaps, the most important documentation of all. It reminds us that most of our life is not the drama (despite what our memories will have us believe.)
Most of our life is the stuff of spiral bound notebooks. And it’s good to be reminded of this, especially when you are turning 40 and reflecting on the life you have lived until now.
In one of my boxes, I found three spiral-bound notebooks, chronicles of my mundane every-day work life in the years 2000 and 2001. What would possess someone to save her old work notebooks? I don’t know. What was I expecting I would one day find inside them? I’m not sure.
But what I did find inside one made me smile.
It aroused in me wonder.
It made me look upwards toward the sky, to the place where I believe magic originates.
Inside an 80-sheet, 60% recycled paper spiral bound notebook, I found a note to self from April 2000.
It was the first time I ever wrote my husband’s name.
There among reminders-to-call and freelancer phone numbers, it lives.
A document that I once did not know my husband. That I once needed to write his name in a notebook in order to remember him. That this man, who I now know better than any man, once existed for me as scribbles on a page, as individual digits.
And I even misspelled his last name. My last name, now.
Once, long ago, I didn’t know how to spell my last name.
Mind-blowing, isn’t it? Or not, depending on how caught up you get in such ideas. What does it matter that you once wrote your future husband’s name in a work notebook? Someone more grounded than I might ask.
And I might shrug my shoulders and say, “I don’t know why it matters.”
Except it does.
It’s there. Evidence of how quickly life shifts. How easily the mundane becomes the drama.
Proof that there’s magic in the sky waiting to sprinkle down upon on us and show up as letters written in sparkly marker.
A reminder that our life is a mixture of the drama and the mundane, and that we can never truly be certain what or who will carry meaning for us one day, and what or who will be relegated to the margins of our lives.