Time to sift memories: an archaeological dig of your own life

It was time to sift memories. Have you ever stored away parts of your life for years on end?

Have you ever had the chance to go through, to search, and to sift through the memories? Had a chance to let go or rejoiced in the opportunity to rid yourself or set fire to parts of your life long since over?

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Conducting an archeological dig of your own former life is strange. Earlier this year, I had a chance to do just that.

I cleaned out boxes stored in a shipping container at mum and dad’s for the past 7 years (since before the first move to the USA).

I found trophies and accoutrements from years of sport. I found moments of my personal history I had long since forgotten and perhaps wanted to forget.

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I found the first album i truly connected with, if not the first one I ever bought. It was in fact, the second album – on cassette no less, I ever purchased with the proceeds of a part time job. What was that album?

20140420-130137.jpgIt was R.E.M’s Automatic For the People.

What was yours?

It is still an album with takes my breath away. “Everybody Hurts” is truly a song that has connected with me at some of the lowest parts of my life!

Do you have a song like that?

Do you have a album which connects to happier times. “LDN” and “Smile” by Lily Allen remind me of a particularly spectacular roadtrip and springbreak with friends during grad school.

20140420-130145.jpgI also found my first gold medal. I was 5, and I won a gold medal in freestyle swimming backstroke! Because, freestyle really means freestyle. I used to dive off the blocks and turn over onto my back to race, at least for a little bit. This medal kind of overdoes the pool itself. It was at the Kootingal-Moonbi pool in far northern new south wales, which certainly doesn’t have anything stands. It is a beautiful pool with beautiful surrounds.

At a meet a couple of years later, my mum swam a leg in a relay while being 7 months pregnant with my little sister. They won a medal.

From these artifacts my life, memories almost overwhelm. Senses are stimulated – moments long forgotten zoom out of the fog. It’s like diving into the pool of memories ala Harry Potter. The wispy strains of foggy memory bring both the good and the bad.

As I wrote in my journal at the time: “Some parts don’t feel like my own life. They don’t feel like they belong to me. But they do, like a weight around my neck – they do.”

What always take me by surprise is the emotional impact of such a clean-out. It was physically tiring. It took me from sunup to sundown for 4 days. I did rest in the hottest part of the day because I didn’t fancy standing in what was effectively an oven, but i needed light to work because the inside of the container doesn’t have electricity. The emotional and mental strain takes some processing and it can take a while.

I gave away. I let go.

But I also destroyed.

The great paper purge of 2014 also took place – with years and years of class notes from my first two degrees and even some dating back to highschool.

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In 7 days we will receive my final shipment of household goods from Australia!

It has been over 5 months since I parted with the huge pile of boxes in Newcastle.

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This huge pile. Another opportunity to sift memories. It’ll make for a raucous opportunity for thanksgiving and Christmas rolled into one in October!

Listening. Observing. Participating. Writing. Photographing. Reflecting.

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Anna Blanch_Gill Gamble_blogAnna Blanch Rabe is an Australian-born writer and photographer. You can follow her adventure on Not A Pedestrian Life, or Facebook. For more domestic things take a look at Quotidian Home or her previous website, Goannatree.

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