Usually I identify as a very un-romantic person. Quite practical. I don't understand people's poor opinion of presents that are practical. I love them. One year, when we were particularily broke and new homeowners, I was genuinely hoping for a pile of mulch from my husband for my birthday. I really was hoping to overhaul my gardens. Jewellery and a cute bear girl I am not.
But I'm a sucker for a good story. A history. The life behind a thing.
It's exactly what I love about old houses. The energy the house holds. The lives that lived there. The cycle that continues, with me only as a small part.
What made me think of this tonight? I'm addressing Christmas cards.
I've had this address book for my whole adulthood. Since I've been old enough to need to and organized enough to write down people's addresses anyway. I was thinking this year that I really should type everyone's address into a label template and save myself the effort next year.
But as I work through my address book, it tells me a story. Not just the good story either, the whole story is there.
The story of where I've been and who I've met. Friends I've lost touch with but remember fondly are there, with their old address, where I know they no longer live. I wonder where they are now? Old boyfriends are crossed out. Some warrant the white-out. Businesses I used before moving are listed. Reminding me of that stage in my life, where I was, what I was doing. The chiropractor in downtown Halifax, where I was treating old soccer injuries. I was single, just me to think about, had no idea what the next ten years would bring. I played indoor soccer once in a while at another university, I wonder where those girls are now. I would walk into the chiropractor loaded down with all of my gear, a university student who traversed the city by foot, my art folio hanging off my backpack, my paper roll sticking out, taking forever to unravel my scarf and layers and wet boots just to sit down for my appointment.
It also tells the story of the changes in my loved ones lives. Some movers and shakers have several addresses crossed out, new ones added, some needing arrows to more space somewhere else on the page. There's new last names, one poor wife is crossed out entirely, her new replacement penciled in. One friend married another friend, her name under B, now says 'See H'. Babies are written in, with their birthdate beside. My grandmother's address still reads Grammie and Grampie.
Troy is in there. With the phone number he gave me one night. Oglivie Towers, where a year later we would find ourselves moving in a block down the street from, waiting for the impending birth of our new baby boy.
How can you replace this?