what parts of our history do we save? (remnants of a magazine/newspaper career)

Thursday, April 18, 2013

My husband, now returned from his trip home, to El Salvador, returns with stories of his childhood, recovered and retold over meals with families and friends. I wrote his stories once, or the ones I knew, in a book called Still Love in Strange Places. But the past, in El Salvador, is always present.

There was much to do while Bill was gone. On the list was my need to respond to his hope that I might find a way to eliminate all the "unnecessary" clippings of my previous magazine/newspaper writing life. Philadelphia Magazine, Wall Street Journal Europe, Chicago Tribune, Philadelphia Inquirer, New York Times, Washington Post, Real Simple, Parenting, Offspring, Madison, New Jersey Life, Book Magazine, Family Circle, Organic Style, Blue Ridge Magazine, Pennsylvania Gazette—even tucked away inside two boxes, there was too much of too much. Perhaps, he hoped, I would cut the piles by half.

And so on Sunday afternoon I began—sifting, sorting, tossing, trying to decide which stories of my past were worthy of space in a cramped, two-bedroom home. Would I ever really read any of these pieces again? Wasn't the act of making them (the pitching, the interviews, the writing, the editing) somehow more sacred than the printed pieces themselves? Why was I having such a hard time filling the recycling bin with molting paper? It was, after all, molting paper.

I kept, in the end, the stories that meant the most to me then—the El Salvador photo spread, the interview with Gerald Stern, the Oksana Baiul profile, just a few reviews, here and there, from a lifetime of intense reviewing. I kept a story about swimming, a story about creativity, a story about forgiveness, stories about being a mom. I kept what is there, on the table above, and tried not to think about the temporary nature of so many things. Too many things.

There were stories. I wrote them. They were.


3 comments:

kelly said...

So much of what I write is temporary,too.

That's partly why I have an uneasy relationship with ebooks -- they seem so fleeting, and who needs more fleeting?

You were. You are. You is. :-)

Serena said...

I am a keeper of these kinds of things...but I have no where near that many. :)

Adrienne said...

Interestingly, scrapbooking has become a hobby/passion/small business of mine over the past ten years. I help people all the time choose what to preserve. And it always comes down to ... what means the most to you, what pieces best tell your story. Your way. I love the notion of preserving our history, telling our story so future generations can understand a bit of the fabric that made them.

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