When I walked in the door, my mom immediately handed me a Wal-Mart plastic bag full of junk. “Your sister and I were going through some things upstairs and found all of this for you.” It’s probably just a small sample of all the things I have left at my parent’s house in their attic. But I was amazed by what I found. I do consider myself a bit of a pack rat, so the things I kept even back then are interesting. They speak volumes about who I am today, ironically. Digging in this bag, I found quite a few treasures:
- Yearbooks from Lineville Elementary School, Lineville, Alabama
- A journal I kept in 9th grade, the year we moved from Augusta to Knoxville, Tennessee to Cullman, Alabama, and back
- The packet I got at my first diocesan convention in the Diocese of Georgia as a youth delegate
- A scrapbook including letters from friends when I moved (yes, I once communicated via snail mail quite frequently before the days of e-mail, Facebook, and Twitter), and favorite Garfield comic strips.
- Award ribbons from middle school, where it appears I excelled in water balloon tossing (1st place), the spelling bee (2nd place), seed-spitting (1st place), and the 440 yard relay (3rd place).
- My duck-shaped money bank which still, to-this-day, holds a one dollar bill.
- Photo albums of family and friends, including our 5th grade field trip to the Huntsville Space Center
- The uniform of my old Spider-Man action figure (don’t know where Spidey himself is, though…)
- A cross bookmark my grandmother stitched with yarn and that plastic stuff.
- A note from my 4th grade girlfriend, Dawn Bryan, asking me if I like her, “Please check yes or no.”
- My T-shirt from my 3rd grade tee-ball team. We were the Braves.
- My grandfather’s pocket knife.
- A letter from State Representative Dick Ransom from November, 1989, thanking me for my thoughtful letter on banning smoking. He suggests that I just tell my father I love him, and that will make him want to stop smoking. I don’t remember writing a letter to Mr. Ransom, but I remember thinking, “Well, duh, man! Don’t you think I thought of that already!”
- A note from my father congratulating me on becoming Student Council Representative in 6th grade.
- A page of original artwork from my mother’s cousin’s husband, Brian Clifton, who published his own comic book entitled Diebold. It’s the only piece of original comic art that I have, and I had been searching everywhere for it.
It’s times like this that I remember why I kept these things to begin with. We all want a connection to our past. Most of the time these connections are negative ones, memories of past faults or regrets, or escapades of events we barely remember. But it is important to keep some touchstones, if nothing else, they help you remember who you were, who you are today, and who you’ve been all along.
So when you get a free afternoon, clean out that closet or dust off those boxes in the attic and rummage through them to discover who you are. You never know what you’ll find.