As with all things, the stars had to align perfectly for it to happen.
First, I had spent the day before watching a marathon of Hoarders: Buried Alive. That really gets me in the mood to purge. Next, I had to find a good eraser, one that hadn’t gone hard and useless. You wouldn’t believe how hard that is to find in my house (purge, purge, purge). Then I also had to be staring at my Christmas bowl full of Christmas cards, all those people in my life staring at me (figuratively speaking). The result of all these disparate parts? I cleaned up my address book.
First, some background on my address book. It’s red leather and it’s beautiful. I write all the names and addresses in pencil so that the address book will always look perfect and always be pertinent, no cross-outs and no dead addresses (or that’s the plan). Of course, you need a plump eraser for that (see above).
Minor detour: When I was a young wife and mother, I had a dark green leather address book. I got it when I was single and it cost me pennies I didn’t really have. I treated it with care. Big D and Number One Son (the only kid at the time) did not. One day, while walking by the phone, I smelled something funny. Icky. Unpleasant. After much Mother Sleuthing, I discovered that Number One Son, then about two years old, had smeared banana between the pages of my green address book. It had dried there. One address book: dead. After a suitable grieving period, I asked Big D for a new address book for Christmas. On Christmas Day, in a moment that belongs in a Nora Ephron romantic comedy, Big D looked on excitedly as I opened my gift. The new address book was plastic, held together by staples and meant to fit into a purse. Or a back pocket. He grinned at me, so proud. I stared at him, so bewildered. More staring ensued. A bit more. His grin faltered. Fade out—I bought my own address book, red leather.
Today, I tackled my address book. As with most purging, it was a very emotional journey, filled with sentiment and sadness. There were people in my address book who are dead now, who are divorced, who have moved since I first put their name in and I just kept shoving in the return address label with the new address, and then the next new address, and the next. There are people I lost touch with decades ago, people who haven’t sent me a Christmas card in twenty years or more.
There are also new people to add to my address book. New friends, new family members, new hair stylists.
My address book, wiped clean now, traces less of my past and more of my present; I like that. Without my handy eraser, it was a footprint of where I’ve been and who I’ve loved. That’s okay for some, but I am a sentimental soul, sweet sentiment and tantalizing memory can hold me captive at a glance. So I erase it all, keep it clean, and keep looking forward.
There is no going back. My address book bears witness to that.
Are you sentimental? Do you live in the present or do you keep looking back? How up to date is your address book?