My original birth certificate, some report cards and paperwork from elementary and middle school, a few highly regrettable class pictures, the program I kept from my “brother” Erik’s funeral and two yearbooks I haven’t opened since about a week after I got them. They’ve mainly taken up space on the bottom of my bookshelf, out of sight and out of mind.
Everything else I had was thrown away about a year after I graduated high school twenty years ago. There were some things I lost which I still lament to this day. I don’t miss the rest, though. For the most part, they belong to a past I’ve been trying every day since to both outrun and forget.
My class reunion is coming up in about three weeks and while I’ll be back in town when it takes place, I have absolutely no intention of going to it. I didn’t go to my tenth and I won’t go to any future ones either for both high school or the college I went to.
The reason is not because I’m angry or bitter or spiteful. It’s because those times in my life are simply too painful for me to even approach, forget walk back into them and stay a while.
Over the years I’ve been told I spend too much time living in the past, often by people who do not understand and cannot empathize with the weight of the past I carry around with me. That being said, the insinuation may seem accurate in the sense that I deal with constant reminders of those days whenever my subconscious decides it wants to have some fun at my expense.
When I pulled that manila folder out of its box tonight to take this picture, it took about 60 seconds of looking through those pages, seeing the kid in those pictures and all the angry, rueful memories I have hit me all at once like a train.
I don’t live in the past. If anything, I try at all times to disregard its total and complete existence. My problem is that I have not, as of yet, figured out how to escape it and it both has not and will not let me go.
One of the main lessons I had to teach myself over the years was the simplest way to not get stuck in where you’ve been is to find the polar opposite direction, start running as fast as you can and do not, under any circumstances, look back.
So you tuck those chapters away in convenient boxes. You compartmentalize them. You take those ferocious emotions and you channel them into the engine which is going to hopefully take you as far away as humanly possible. You just keep going and going and going. Never slowing down. Never stopping.
There is nothing good coming to meet you if you do.
Perhaps, someday, my perspective will be different and I’ll be able to look back on those times in a better light. I honestly don’t know. Anything’s possible I guess.
For now, though, these things will go back in the box and onto my shelf and there they will stay.
Out of sight and out of mind.