Shredding the past

I have a confession to make. I spent an afternoon this past weekend shredding my high school diary. I feel ever so much better. That thing has been hanging over my head for a year or two. Now it is gone.

I wrote once about how people need to clear out their clutter and get rid of those things they would rather not have pop up on their estate auction. As the head seeker of valuables for Marshall Auction, I became rather good at culling the wheat from the chaff in the many estate sales we did during our 30 years in the auction business. I read lots of old letters, bank statements, cards, and, yes, diaries. All of it was fascinating reading for the first 10 years or so. Eventually, not so much.

However, I often wondered why people saved so much personal information as if they did not care that it might be seen by a much wider audience. Now that I am living in a 2½ story house filled with nooks and crannies housing my own personal information, I have a better understanding of the problem. No.1, we probably have forgotten that we ever had things we would rather not have the world see. No.2, we think we always will have just a little more time to sort it out, pass it on, or throw it away.

So let me tell you about my diary. Honestly, I thought I had thrown it away decades ago. I had no recollection of doing so, but it was not with the memorabilia from my junior high and high school days so over time I thought I had got rid of it.

A couple of years ago, I cleaned out a closet upstairs and actually did sort out and get rid of the contents. I hauled clothing to the Disabled American Veterans, consigned some great old toys to an antique shop, tossed artwork, school papers, Scout projects by The Daughters, and just generally made a small area empty. However, what do you think I found at the bottom of a box of miscellaneous miscellaneous items? Yup, that dratted old five-year diary. Imagine my surprise.

I think I even wrote about it in this column the week after I found it and re-read it. I decided that even though I remembered being smart, hip, and cool in junior high and high school, I discovered from my diary that I was really kind of a fruitcake. I kept track of many friends and their dramas and many more notes about schoolwork and babysitting jobs than I would have if I really were as smart, hip, and cool as I thought. I made comments in big fat bubble letters about guys I thought were REALLY CUTE or (I love this) NEAT-O. Now does that not sound like a fruitcake to you? By the way, I saw most of those neat-o love objects at my 50-year reunion in August last year and that would be a topic for another time.

At any rate, after finding my diary in that closet, I realized there were some things I really did want to save. I had recorded my thoughts and emotions about the Kennedy assassination and I wanted to keep those pages. I told about family trips to see the cousins, and since there have been recent discussions amongst us about what year this or that event might have happened, it was fun to take note and be able to share the actual dates with them. I dutifully listed the family members present, and it is a record of our young adventures together.

However, no way did I want to share the whole blasted thing with anyone, so I ran the rest of it through the shredder. It is finally gone.

I may live to regret this part, but just to prove that I really was smart, cool, and hip, I am going to go on record here and tell you that Gary White was the best kisser in our class, bar none. I said so in my diary more than once, or twice, or thrice, so I know it must have been true. I may even send him a Peabody Gazette-Bulletin just to prove that not only am I still smart, cool, and hip, but I am gutsy as well.

Now, go clean out a closet.

—susan marshall

Last modified July 21, 2016

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