There are very few things in life that I know to be true – even at the grand old age of 34 (not grand at all I suppose). However, there is one thing that will always and forever be unalterable – my feelings about home. I’ve just spent two weeks in the USA, driving back and forth between my parents’ new house on an island off the coast of the Carolinas, and my childhood home in Charlotte, North Carolina. Each place comes with its own set of memories and each time I visit I find it a little harder to leave. There is no replacing the trees you used to climb as a child, the bedroom where you took a sip of your first underage wine cooler with your best girlfriends, or the basketball hoop where your brothers kicked your ass for years on end. Each and every corner of my old home is filled with a memory and pretty soon those corners will be passed onto a new family, where new memories will be made. We’re selling the Charlotte home as my parents make the permanent move down south and this trip home was a super emotional one as it was layered with a monumental goodbye. Not only did I have to hug and kiss my parents and two dogs goodbye (hardest thing ever), I also had to wave goodbye to my home of 28 years.
While in my old house I had to clear out drawers and make sure there were no items in hiding that would be found and possibly destroyed after our exit. It’s amazing what you can squirrel away after close to three decades. I took out one box and decided I would fill it, and only it, with my “keepables.” That is, by no means, an easy task. However, I read an article from a good friend last year who advised that taking a picture of most things that are special to you can be just as good as keeping the original thing itself. So, I brought out the high res camera and set to capturing the items that I would send for recycling – mainly lots of old pictures and quite a few knick knacks from random travels over the years.
More than once, during the clear out, I broke down in tears. It’s no easy task sifting through old memories. Some are wonderful, some are catastrophically overwhelming and others are just entirely random. The catastrophically overwhelming ones left me like a puddle on my bedroom floor. There were letters from old boyfriends – I was particularly taken with the letters written on bark from an old flame who hiked the Appalachian Trail and wrote to me along the way (I’d completely forgotten about the letters and the boy after 16 years.) There were countless notes written in high school calculus. There were even a few notes passed with girlfriends from university calculus. Seems math was more a social endeavor for me back in the day. Actually, who am I kidding? Not much has changed. Even meetings with my accountant these days are more social visits than anything else.
Then there were the bigger moments, the ones I think my parents had held onto more than me. There were a dozen or so swim trophies. I come from a competitive swimming family – all three of my brothers were national level Olympian boys. Sadly, my swim career ended early with a severe shoulder injury, yet all the trophies remained in my room 15 years after they had been won. I dusted off each one and remembered, more than anything, the people that were around me when the trophies were awarded. In fact, those people came back to life as a I uncovered more and more photographs, letters, small gifts from days of old and general knick knacks from old school experiences. A chosen few of those people are still in my life today, and for that I feel supremely blessed. While the pictures are a nice memory, the moments together after 30 years of friendship mean so much more.
After a full day of packing and purging, I had officially shut one chapter of my life. Even though I am in my thirties, and therefore technically an adult already, for the first time I felt as if I was filing away my childhood and truly embarking upon a new journey. I don’t feel any older or any wiser, but I now feel I have the room for new pictures, nick knacks and maybe even, one day soon, children of my own.
Now, we run the risk of all of this becoming a little too serious, so let’s lighten the mood a bit, shall we? There were a few discoveries in my dive through history that were just too hilarious not to share. Then there were also a few that are just too special to keep to myself. So without further ado, the highlight reel of my childhood memory bank.
I’ll start from the oldest picture I could find… of me and my first best friend, who still remains a big part of my life today.
This is a picture of the two of us at our Country Club swim practice. We were five. This is nearly 30 years old, this picture. And just this morning I was having coffee with this beautiful and talented
girl woman and discussing our options for taking over the world in 2015. It’s amazing how much time can alter dreams and schemes. At the age of 12 we were promising each other we’d stay in North Carolina, marry men that were best friends and have houses next door to each other where our own daughters would be the same age and inseparable. It could still happen, but for now we’re enjoying the lives we have carved out in this world on our own.
Moving on, in chronological order, it’s time to embarrass the little brother. I always had this picture in a frame on my nightstand growing up. I’m hoping my lil bro doesn’t read this or he’ll know the real reason and that would totally blow my “I’m an older-sister-bitch cover.” The truth of the matter is I have always worshipped my little brother. He has always been the brave one, the one that never cared what anyone thought. He carved his own path and never let anyone tell him which way to go. This picture, for me, always reminded me that no matter how successful or powerful he got, he’d also be my Donald Duck, first and foremost. Truly, this little kid is my hero. Just look at that smile.
Now, time to embarrass myself. When I was 9 I ran for secretary of my student body. I couldn’t run for President because I wasn’t old enough -so I ran for the only position I could hold – secretary. My mother was my campaign manager. These fliers were her idea. I passed them out at lunch and thought I was the coolest cat ever with my head on some model secretary’s body as she worked a new age desk chair. I mean just “imagine the possibilities.” My mother was, and still is, the coolest.
Fast forward one year and we have the only yearbook picture I’ll ever share with anyone. In case you’re wondering, that’s a Ralph Lauren sweater I’m sporting. If there were any question as to how far back this obsession goes, here’s our answer. My mom and I picked out this outfit together. I can remember it like it was yesterday. What a dork I was. Oh, and that was me practicing my signature back in the day. I guess I thought it might be worth something some day. Ha!
Although every dork has their shining moment and I thought I had definitely landed mine the day Glamour Shots arrived in Charlotte, NC. Oh yes, I was a Glamour Shots-aholic! Every chance I got, I was there like a shot – in the makeup and hair chair and off to sit for my very own modeling portrait. For those of you too young to know Glamour Shots, this was a company that was in every mall in the USA that allowed for ladies to get their very first on-camera experience, complete with a serious makeover. As you can see from this picture, the makeover was major. I’m just not so sure looking back what I was crazy about. I look like an entertainer on a cruise ship. Oh and we’re all only 13 here. I’m putting this out there myself before it can ever come back to haunt me unexpectedly if ever discovered elsewhere.
And now, I’m 30,000 miles up in the air flying away from it all. And yes, I’m crying like an idiot as I always do when the wheels go up on the plane and I’m left looking down on the twinkling lights below me on the American coastline. It’s amazing to think that all of those memories have happened and somehow all played a role in lifting me from my own home soil and hurling me 4,000 miles across the world. The universe has an odd sense of humour, don’t you think?