I took this photo a year ago. I clearly quite like it, because I’ve posted it before.
It was a time that will always be a weird mix of fuzziness and absolute clarity. I was pregnant, I had complications, I was emotional, I was tired, I was restless, I was nervous. I didn’t know how the vote was going to go and I had passed by some pretty obnoxious posters and people on a near daily basis.
I’ve only just started processing the past year properly. I’ve been listening to some podcasts about the campaign and the result and it feels like the campaign only happened a short time ago, but also like I’m hearing analysis of another time and place entirely.
I’m still elated about the result and I’m still really angry that we had to go through this at all. I’m angry that the legislation isn’t perfect but elated that people are getting the healthcare they need. I’m angry that a local election candidate who left his political party because the absolutely minimal legislation in 2013 was too extreme for him sidles past our repeal bumper stickers to look for our vote in a constituency which voted yes by a landslide.
I feel guilty that I didn’t do more and wonder if I was too lazy, and then I wonder if I needed to do more given the result. Then I feel guilty for trying to absolve myself of my guilty feelings. I’m not sure if feeling this guilt is good or bad at this point.
I look at my children and that makes me happiest of all. All the marches and the chats and the donations and the support and the GIFs and the funny moments and the sad moments and the whole of the 25th of May 2018 when I barely functioned because of the knots in my stomach and the all over shaking when I thought about what might happen. I don’t want to say it was all worth it, but it happened and I can look back on it all in a slightly less garbled way than I would have even a few months ago.
I’m glad I have these memories; they’re part of me now. I’m equally glad that this morning when I moved my box of repeal stuff aside to get at something else in the attic I was able to tell myself that the box is a relic of another time already.
This pile of stuff has very little that I bought new. The moses basket and stand was a charity shop find, the co-sleeper came on loan from a friend and a lot of the babygros came from our attic and were worn by other babies. I’ve packed up a lot of stuff in recent days, now that we’ve reclaimed our room and don’t need a lot of what I call the baby-baby stuff. We didn’t even have a lot of the stuff on the lists of baby ‘essentials’, knowing as we did what we needed and what we didn’t.
Our family is most definitely complete. This stuff is all going to a new home and that makes me very happy. I’m looking forward to the next stage of life and having a little more freedom and a lot less stuff. It’s still a little emotional packing up the stuff and knowing this is it for us.
I still love a good night’s sleep though.
Over a month ago I finally completed a project that had, to be blunt, wrecked my head and made me question my levels of patience. I’m very happy to report that the photobooks of my children’s art spark oodles of joy. The quality is fantastic, they came really quickly and I’m pretty pleased with my work. The work was all worth it and I’m definitely going to use this method of preserving memories for a few other
bundles of crap things I want to remember.
I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts lately, as I find I’m more productive with something interesting to listen to in the background. Following a recommendation in a newspaper, I started listening to Heavyweight, and Julia’s episode struck many chords with me for many reasons. While it’s not always comfortable to think about the past and how moments have shaped who you are and what choices you’ve made in life, it is very comforting to hear someone else talk about their discomforting moments and have it dawn on you that your big positive and negative moments are very similar to other people’s ones and that it’s ok to be a little kinder and more forgiving to yourself and other people.
Photos have been the most irritating part of decluttering. We’ve lugged a large box containing a random assortment of snaps from college days, holiday photos and professional shots around for years. The box had loose photos, instax photos, some albums which were falling apart, a ‘nice’ box from our wedding photographer and loads of envelopes from the days when you had real film to be developed. This is in addition to what must be thousands of digital images on phones and camera cards.
I’ve spent a fair bit on very plain albums and discarded a lot of blurry images, pictures of people I don’t recognise and unflattering portraits. I went through a range of emotions while doing so, from mourning my much younger, slimmer self to laughing at the fashions to remembering good and bad days. Part of the reason I had long fingered this part of the Konmari process was my certainty that this would be difficult mentally, and it was.
We’re about 90% of the way there. There’s a pile or two left to sort through and one last album to fill. I’ve already ordered and received a photobook of images from 2018 and thanked my lucky stars that we probably won’t ever be sorting through this number of physical photos again.
I read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying before we moved house. I love stuff, I love a tidy house, and I was looking for a way to reconcile the two. I’m sentimental about stuff and I have fallen for the sunk cost fallacy many times over the years.
I chipped away at the stuff when I finished the book and we moved house with a lot less. We haven’t bought a lot of furniture for our home, even though it is a lot bigger than our old place. Yet, the stuff creeps in and somehow stays. It stresses me out, not a huge amount but more of a constant irritated feeling.
We bought our Christmas tree in Ikea, and got a voucher to spend in January. I have had my eye on the Malm range for a while, mainly because of the clean lines but, more importantly, the fact that the chest of drawers would fit into my wardrobe. We have no drawers at all in our wardrobe so the KonMari method was hard to follow. I didn’t want to replace what are otherwise perfectly good, inoffensive white wardrobes so putting a chest inside what was hanging space has worked well.
I went through photos this week, having cleared out most of the more sentimental things. I bought a very plain album and discarded two battered albums which were falling apart. It was harder than I expected to look at photos from college days. Those days were amongst the happiest of my life but it was like seeing a different person.
I’m still working on my feelings about those photos and all the memories they sparked. The photos spark joy, they are something I want to bring into my future and moving them to a new album was a very satisfying process.
When I was 16 and in transition year in school, I was in the Young Scientist exhibition, along with some friends from school, one of whom is still a dear friend today and works in science. My project was on antibacterial detergents and I have no idea why I plumped on this idea for my submission.
It was a fantastic experience. I don’t work in science but I do love science and I still love the idea of a young scientist exhibition. To be quite honest, the memories of the social side of those few days stayed with me much more than the science side and for a socially inept 16 year old that was probably a good thing.
I have such fond feelings about that time in my life. Every year when the exhibition pops up in the same hall where my project was showcased all those years ago I get a smile on my face thinking back to when some of the greatest thrills of my life were seeing my project title on the little stand I had been allocated and winning tickets to go and see Blur in the Point Depot.
I’m really looking forward to bringing my own children to this when they’re a wee bit older, and maybe seeing their projects exhibited when they’re older again. I’m sure this year’s submissions have much fancier graphics (shout out to Windows 95!) and the students are a lot more tech savvy (no boosting your social media profile back in 1998 but I hope they have as much fun as I did and look back fondly on 2019 as I do on that January in 1998 when I was 16 and having the time of my life.