It is time for spring cleaning, so I decided to tackle the back bedroom first. This is my home office/storage/junk room, so it is always in need of attention. It is unbelievable how quickly stuff accumulates. I began shredding old documents and reorganizing shelves, and I was feeling great about all of the clutter that I was eliminating until I reached the closet. As I surveyed that mess, I stumbled over our old, blue trunk; surely I could get rid of its contents.
When I opened the trunk, I realized how many memories that I had stashed there. Stuffed inside were photo albums, childhood books, journals I kept, essays that I had written in college, trinkets of all kinds and a box of love letters. I also came across my old scrapbook. My name was inscribed inside the front cover in my 11-or 12-year-old handwriting. That’s when I began the collection, which continued into my early twenties. As I turned the pages, I discovered old cards and letters from dear grandparents, aunts and uncles now passed on, programs from school activities, and a variety of certificates and awards including everything from Vacation Bible School to “A” Honor Roll. A note from my childhood music teacher caused me to briefly relive those long afternoons when I was screeching out scales on my violin. There were poems I had written and special notes from friends. I touched the fancy invitation from one friend’s Bat Mitzvah — the female equivalent of a Bar Mitzvah. How glad I am to have had that cultural experience.
I found a ticket stub from the night I saw John McEnroe play in an exhibition match in 1983. I was in my tennis phase, the only sport for which I had any aptitude at all. McEnroe was at the top of his game in those years, and I had followed every serve and volley as he won the U.S. Open and Wimbledon. My parents were good enough to take a friend and me all the way to the Greensboro Coliseum to see him play. There was also memorabilia from an N.C. State basketball game that I attended when Jim Valvano was still coaching and a newspaper clipping from when the “Cardiac Pack” won the NCAA championship. My dad and I watched every game together that season.
I discovered pictures of birthdays and my high school and college graduation programs. There, tucked among the pages were my passport and the boarding pass from my first flight when I traveled to London, England on a college trip. Also included from that trip were my ticket to Barbican Hall where I heard the London Symphony Orchestra and pictures of the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace. We visited Canterbury Cathedral, Stonehenge, and the Tower of London as well — what incredible experiences for a little Southern girl from rural North Carolina.
Toward the end of the book, I found a napkin from the reception held in honor of my grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary, and now my parents have been together for more than 50 years as well. I thank them for this legacy when I find laminated copies of my own engagement and wedding announcements, both published in The Laurinburg Exchange in 1990. As I examine this younger version of myself, I remember that I was not nervous on my wedding day. I knew then and have confirmed in all the years since that I married the right man, the author of those love letters.
In the end, I did not do as much spring cleaning as I had intended, but what a wonderful journey through time I had instead. The past where I grew up often seems very different from the future I now face. I just could not part with these tiny bits and scraps of my life, for these tokens represent times that will never come again, memories of events that shaped my life, and evidence of special people who must not be forgotten.
Deana Johnson lives in Laurinburg.