Written by The Good Woman from My Wee Scottish Blog
I've been packing. Sorting our things into neat piles – keep, recycle, discard. Different boxes with different destinations. And I've been thinking, wouldn't it be good if we could do this with our memories too.
I'd keep Bambi's milestones in a special box marked 'fragile', because already I find myself struggling to remember how sweet she looked with just two teeth protruding from her bottom gum, the exact pronunciation of her first words, the soaring pride of her first steps.
I'd hang onto every moment of affection, love and kindness shared with family and friends. I will need this box often in the first months in a new place. And I would build it of rubber, with the hope that it will expand over the months and years that follow.
I'd definitely keep all the laughter. This box should under no circumstances be soundproof – the hoots, guffaws, giggles and chortles should be readily available at all times.
In a transparent box in the corner will be the memories of the difficult times. I'm tempted to throw this box away but the lessons it contains were costly and more valuable for it. So I'll keep them safe for reference later, but neatly compartmentalised and observed from afar. Insurance on this box will be expensive.
I'd recycle all the practical stuff. The 'how to's' of moving house, settling in and making a home away from home. This box would be big and sturdy, full of frequently thumbed manuals. It would contain the things I know to be true. This box would go somewhere prominent, for others to refer to as required. There is no reason for anyone else to have to learn these things the hard way – I will share them freely on request.
I think I should also recycle my mistakes and failings. It's a hard box to pack but I've learnt what I can from its contents – maybe someone else can use these memories without having to repeat them. And that would bring me great comfort.
What memories will I discard? Should I throw away the days I felt depressed, the moments of anger and frustration? Should I bottle the tears I have shed and pour them away for ever? Or should I put them in a corner to fade, only thought of during spring cleaning – or when I can be bothered to visit the attic?
Sadly, we cannot choose the memories we discard. Usually, it's the in between days that fade away completely – the filler between times of true happiness and complete despair. Sometimes its the extremes – the intensity of labour pain, the anxiety of loss. If we're lucky, the moments of intense joy remain. And if we're really lucky we live in anticipation of many more to come – a replenishing supply of happiness.
So I'll discard as little as possible and hope it all comes along for the ride. When it comes to memories, it's best not to travel too light.
The Good Woman is a South African expat currently preparing to move from