April 1, 2024

Digging through the Archives: a Bright Reminder for Dark Days.

 

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It’s a Tuesday night and I was meant to go on (yet another) speed dating event for which I bought a ticket ahead of time, and when the night swung around I didn’t go.

I don’t know how much money has now been wasted on events I just “couldn’t be bothered” to leave the house for. For every event I attend, there are at least four I don’t.

The thing is, I’m in no mood to leave the house. I’ve been off and on crying all day, whilst carefully balancing my many responsibilities. Showing up for all of them with the full gusto I’m so well rehearsed at. Catching snippets of time between activities to not-so-quietly sob.

But it’s now the evening, the sky is as dark as my mood, and it’s raining heavily outside. And whilst those are more than enough reasons to not go out, it’s really the box that stopped me.

The box.

Urgh.

It’s been sitting at Mum and Dad’s house for the best part of six months. Every time I go visit, I promise them I will go through the box, chuck what I don’t want, and take ownership (aka re-home) the things I want to keep.

The thing is I know what’s in that box. It’s a history I don’t want to dive into. Especially not in my weakened emotional state. It’s love letters and broken hearts. It’s copies of lines from lunchtime detention and silly letters amongst friends. It’s a history of sporting achievements alongside evidence of body dysmorphia. It’s the thoughts of a young girl between the ages of 14 to 19.

Yet it is also Tamagotchi’s and BFF necklaces, a set of hair crimpers and glitter pens—the hallmarks of an 80’s baby. For every heart-wrenching word, there is an equally enlightening one. I’m reminded of the time my secondary school teacher made me write out two full A4 pages of the word “Jesus” because I kept spelling His name “Jeasus.”

The contrast between these lives lived more than two decades apart could not be starker. In today’s world, I’m sometimes ghosted twice before 9 a.m. has even struck the clock. Nine times out of ten the kind “Hello” intro messages I send are greeted with an “un-match,” an expired connection, or just outright ignored. It’s often hard to see the “positives” in this realm of my life when there simply isn’t anything to add balance to the other side of the equation.

It’s a time in my life where I am struggling with loneliness, self-esteem, and trying to understand what “love” really is. Where I am questioning endlessly what kind of world we live in and trying desperately not to lose hope. I read a line I had written in the header above the text in one of my journals from the year 2004, “Develop that inner smile so that it’s there to get you through the rough times,” and it feels like a little nod from my younger self.

It makes me think of the quote from spiritual teacher Adyashanti: “If you are not stuck in your mind, you will know what you need to know, when you need to know it.”

And whilst I can’t guarantee I’m not “stuck in my mind,” I do think this is the knowledge that I need right now. I need a reminder that there are indeed different chapters. And even though this one feels particularly long, specifically challenging, and though time seems to be moving at a snail-like pace, there will be another chapter, and another, and maybe even another after that.

Searching through the archives of my life, I’m reminded of little snippets of a former life, where technology wasn’t the norm and this type of behaviour didn’t really exist.

I’m reminded that there was once a time where a boy I wasn’t even dating made me a mixed tape. A cassette player mixed tape. Remember those? It was that huge box-like machine that had a carry handle, and you had to press down on the top so a little lid popped up and you would slide the tape in, closing the compartment pressing ‘play” so the songs could belt out the speakers.

A mixed tape that would have involved many hours, perhaps an entire evening of manual labour. He would have had to record the songs in real time carefully starting and ending the recording of each song at just the right time. Recording them in the correct order and then carefully, manually writing out the song titles and artists with a pen in the inside cover of the tape.

He titled the mix tape “Songs that Make me Cry” and featured classics such as Train’s “Drops of Jupiter,” Led Zeplin’s “Stairway to Heaven,” and Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge over Troubled Water” among other classics. He did that for me, even though we were never actually together.

And so there, straight out the archives of my life is the little reminder I needed. The information I needed to know, at the time I needed to know it.

On this cold, dark, rainy day, I just needed a reminder that someone, somewhere out there, at some point in time, made me a mix tape.

 

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