When my parents sold and moved from the house that spent my teenage years about 9 years ago, my room still looked pretty much the same way it had the day I left for college. It had it’s two twin beds with bed covering and pillows that made them look like couches, blue tinted wood built ins for my books, pictures, stereo (with record player) and desk. I don’t think I ever actually sat at my desk although I remember loving the chair when I got it at age 12 with its teal blue seat and a flower shaped back. Back then we had one home computer which was in a shared den downstairs.
When they were selling the house, I didn’t get too emotional like some people get when their parents sell their childhood home. Perhaps I felt more like our previous house had been my childhood home. What the move signified for me was that I had to pack up my room and really determine what was worth keeping. By having left it the same since I moved away, there were boxes full of notes and letters with my friends throughout the years. I definitely have hoarding tendencies.
In junior high and high school, we used to not only pass notes in class but write letters to eachother when we were in different classes and then pass them to eachother in the hallway or stick them in eachother’s lockers. I don’t know if this was just my group of friends that did this. It sounds kind of absurd now. Most of the times the letters mentioned how bored we were in whatever class we were in and possibly something about one of our crushes that we never actually spoke to. Sometimes they were actually arguements we were having (we were so dramatic); the page filled with rants about what the other one did wrong recently or how hurt we were. A lot of the times the letters were folded in some cool way, which I don’t think I can replicate now 30 years later.
We also wrote plane letters for whoever was going on a trip. The front of the carefully folded letter always said something like “DO NOT READ UNTIL THE PLANE HAS TAKEN OFF!” I remember the excitement of opening up the 5 or so letters, usually as soon as I sat down on the airplane. I don’t know how much we possibly had to say to eachother.
Any normal person might have just thrown them all out when it was time to pack up their teenage room, especially if they hadn’t look at them in over 10 years, but not me. I think I read all or most of them deciding which would be worth keeping. I don’t actually remember doing this, but when I moved into my new house last year I finally got that box out of storage and I definitely still have two small containers full of these letters and notes. I know it’s not all of them and knowing myself I must have made sure to keep the best or most meaningful.
It’s weird because I don’t even know what I’ll ever do with these, but it feels like part of my history. I don’t know if I ever would want anyone else to actually read them or who would care, but having them with me feels nice and nostalgic. It’s another memory besides pictures and actually reminds me of what it was like to be 14. We always look back at our past with enough distance that we’ve embellished it, but these relics of my past bring me right back to how things actually were. I now have the perspective to see that a friend was right about something or to still feel validated in being pissed at her that one day.
I’m definitely a sucker for nostalgia. I think it’s why one of my favorite movie or book genres has always been the coming of age stories.