Saturday, March 31, 2007

Forgetting my life

I started digging through my filing cabinet today, throwing old stuff away. The thing was full, and I'm moving out of state, so I need to lighten my load quite a bit.

Flipping through folders of business proposals, 401K brochures, copies of tax forms; I ran across evidence of things I did long ago that I barely remember and rarely think about. I'm 40 years old, which doesn't seem very old to me, but maybe that's because I forget so much. It's a little scary to throw some of this stuff out, knowing that without any evidence, I may never think of some of these old jobs again. Jobs that were my whole life at the time and that I obsessed about every detail.

I've never been good at telling my own story because I tend to think about the present and the future a lot more than I think about the past. So when someone asks, "what kind of jobs have you had" or "what did you do this weekend", I really have to stretch to remember because my rememberer doesn't get much exercise.

It's funny how quaint some of this stuff looks. I found a nastygram I got from the IRS in the early 90's, and it was printed on multiple pages with carbon in between, with holes along both sides, for feeding into a printer. And I found old resumes I typed on an actual typewriter. I found a letter from a professor mentioning that he'd found "interesting" comments in some code I'd written -- I'm meticulous now about not putting smart-ass comments in code, but at the time I guess I must not have been quite as professional about that kind of thing.

I should be more careful not to save things now, because this will be even harder when I'm 80. The pull of nostalgia will be stronger and I'll want to spend my days reading old blog posts and scrutinizing yellowed grocery receipts, longing for those exotic foods we used to eat back at the turn of the century.

No comments: