I don’t like getting rid of things. I don’t get rid of DVDs I don’t like anymore because they’re part of the collection, and the same goes for music and books. It’s not to show off: “I have tons of books, therefore I am.” or “I’m better than you ’cause I have hundreds of DVDs.”
No, it really isn’t like that, honest.
It’s that I want to be able to trace back, that the collection should be an honest picture of who I’ve been. After all, I define myself by the music and movies and books I love (for better or worse, I know) and so I can trace myself back within it. That’s why there’s still an Ant n Dec CD floating around somewhere, and why I still own Return Of Tambelon, the My Little Pony classic.
Anyway, as you probably now, I’m on my own here now, and so I have been moving all my stuff from the Suburban Wilderness to the Metropolis over the last few months – usually as I bought furniture to put it in. I haven’t found any bookshelves big enough yet, but I brought six or seven large boxes of books yesterday after coming back from Croatia.
Amongst them was a box half books and half useless bits of nonsense from my life.
I have now been around a quarter of a century, which is long enough for things twenty or ten years ago to become vague and fuzzy around the edges. I found stuff in this box that just… partly they’re things I can hardly remember why I wanted to keep in the first place, and partly they’re things that always meant something to me.
Like, why did I keep a cassette tape of the Muppet Babies talking book ‘Where’s The Bear?’ when I lost the book it accompanied years ago? Or why did I want to keep a model of a double-decker bus where I (or Michael) have, at some point, broken every single window? Actually, I seem to recall breaking the ones at the back so I could find out if there was an accurate staircase at the back.
Then there’s the photograph of the class of ’98, Stanborough, just before we split off to either go off to work or stay in Sixth Form. I remember that afternoon well enough- my last uniformed day of school was when Mrs Rowley finally noticed that I’d been wearing black Calvin Klein jeans to school for more than a year. Can I remember the names of everyone else in the picture? Nope. This was only nine years ago – although the experience didn’t exactly inspire me to stay in touch with most of the people there. Still, I’m off to the birthday party of the girl sat on the tennis court floor next to me in Camden tomorrow, so it certainly wasn’t all bad.
How much of what comes before really defines who we are? Is it something we can choose? How much of what I did and said and thought twenty years ago colours who I am today? Probably a lot – I don’t change much – I was as self-absorbed then as I am now. The jotter books Richard and I went through like you wouldn’t believe are hysterically funny – I wrote a question “Who is a better composer, Paul Mcarny or Elton John?” and he has replied “EJ.” I wonder if he still agrees? I find myself comforted by the small number of spelling and grammar errors in my work from when I was very young, although my Queen Victoria project (circa 1992) mentions a Princess Lousie.
Still, at least it proves what I’d never forgotten – that although there’s a number of Jason Donovan cassettes and 45s lurking in this box, I was always thinking more about older things – Elvis, and Buddy and apparently Paul and Elton.
I know I’ve forgotten a lot about primary school, and that it’s taken on semi-mythical status since 1993. Richard and Louise and Laura and the rest remember things I have no recollection of, and I suppose they might say the same about me.
Then again, the same thing compares my typical day then with Queen Victoria’s- the meals seem to mention Pepsi quite a lot, which is very weird, because I was always a Coke girl, or so I thought. Did I have some brief, now-forgotten flirtation with Pepsi-Cola? I know I spent the Summer of Buffy drinking naught but Pepsi Max, but that’s only cos my mam had bought bottles of the stuff.
Then again, I turned on the TV in Pula at one point and the movie showing was The Magnificent Showman with John Wayne, Rita Hayworth and Claudia Cardinale. I know I watched this a bunch of times, but I can’t remember the entire third act, or much of the second, come to that. I always thought that the other don in The Godfather looked familiar, but now I know why – Richard Conte’s in this one.
I don’t know what I’m trying to say, except that memory is a really funny, interesting thing, and that my past might well be the way to unlock who I am and the problems I have today. I mean, I started off the same as everyone else – what is it that sent me spinning off on my own path of quirk, kook and stuff and nonsense? When did I become so seemingly self-absorbed, or was I always this way and just don’t remember?
So, help me: tell me something you remember of me.