I have spent the last few days helping my Mum move into her new house. So exhausting! It’s not just the physical side of things – shifting boxes, driving back and forth between houses to pick up yet more boxes, unpacking, cleaning the old house ready for the new people to move in – it’s the emotional stress too that is tiring. My Mum has lived in that house for 33 years. I myself lived in it for about 29 years. There are so many memories there – good memories and bad, happy ones and sad ones. But leaving it was not the emotional wrench I expected. We were too busy to get caught up in any soppy goodbyes or sentimental last-minute looks at the garden or neighbourhood. And anyway, the house is just a house – without my Mum in it, it’s no longer a home to us. She, and the cats have a brand new house – much smaller and with far less garden to look after – and it already feels like it is theirs. We may well be unpacking boxes for the next three weeks or more though (now I know where my hoarding tendencies come from!)…
I found a couple of things I forgot I had. This embroidery my Mum made for my room:
This bunny box I painted years ago (and one of the few things I was quite pleased with, considering I made up the design myself – I was into penny rugs at the time and although I never got round to sewing one, I decided to copy the idea and paint a stylised version of one on this little wooden trinket box):
I also found this lovely mosaic an old work colleague of mine made for me:
In packing and moving, we have had to clear out a lot of stuff, much of it mine (hey, it’s traditional to leave half of your belongings at a parent’s house, isn’t it?). I was a good girl and threw out or donated loads of stuff. Some of it was very hard to get rid of but I knew I had to do it. Mum no longer has the room for it all and I should be a grown up and cull a few things. I don’t need four hundred magazines. I don’t need to keep every card I have ever been given (seriously) and I probably don’t need to hang on to my old diaries that go way back to when I was 8 years old. Or, hang on, maybe I do…they are, after all, a record of my life (dull as it may have been) and reading them brings back memories, some happy and some quite tear-inducing but memories worth keeping nevertheless.
Some choice entries include:
“October 27, 1983 – Dear Diary, Everyone fights. It’s stupid because they have boyfriends. We’re not old enough for boyfriends…” (Aged 8, before hormones kicked in)
“January 29, 1986 – Dear Diary, I think I will move down the back with the geese. Everyone fights. I wish I was a good witch so I could magic anything!” (Aged 12 and obviously still believing in the power of a little magic and it’s ability to put an end to conflict.)
“August 27, 1985 – I have a big crush on John B*. I wish I was prettier, not so fat and not so boyish so he would like me. I hope he doesn’t have aids etc (Aged 11. Already developing awesome self-esteem and not quite grasping the whole AIDS thing and how one contracts it).
“August 13, 1984 – Today was ok. At school, Matt C* did a bog.” (Aged 10. A bog, I should point out is a charming way of saying someone passed wind. Obviously a highly interesting occurrence to a ten-year-old!)
“October 16th, 1986 – Yesterday the circles wore bras, even Christy*! Hah hah! Mum said I don’t need one yet which is dead good!” (Aged 12. “Circles” were the opposite of squares. I, luckily, did not fit into either category so was accepted by both sides. Poor Christy* was terminally flat-chested. She got a boob job a couple of years ago and leads a full, happy life, unaware of my earlier poo-poohing of her unnecessary underwear choices..)
I’d like to say that my journal entries got better as I got older but, sadly, they did not. I was still prattling on about boys well into my thirties and bemoaning the fact I was ugly/dumb/fat/etc. These days I struggle to write anything at all, which is probably a good thing, but I really should try and jot down a few important facts and dates so I can remember them in my dotage.
I would die a thousand deaths if anyone read my diaries but I can’t bring myself to throw them away. But if anyone does find them, hidden carefully under my bed or in my drawer or on top of a cupboard, I will deny all knowledge of them and refuse to admit they are mine. Or at least say I was under the influence of some mind-altering drug when I wrote them. And if John B* is still out there, I didn’t really like you, I was just pretending. It’s what all the cool circles were doing at the time…
*Names have been changed to protect the innocent!