I started cleaning out the office, which will hereby be known as the baby room. It looks like a bomb went off in there now, but I have a vision of soothing, semi-organized loveliness to come. I found two boxes of letters, cards, and mementos from college. Last night I sat on the couch and started going through one, only making it half-way before I felt soaked in too much nostalgia.
Letters are fantastic. No one writes them anymore. But this is not that blog entry, the one where I lament the death of paper and pen. This is the one where I ponder who the hell that person was that received all those letters. Certainly she was lucky, to be loved by so many interesting people, eager to share their summers and Christmas breaks and semesters abroad with her.
As my stack of things to toss out grew, so did my discomfort level. A potent mix of feelings swirled within - embarrassment, yearning, gratitude, sadness. I realized just how different I am now, how much I am not that 20-year-old anymore. Old regrets rose to the surface with the hindsight of the past 14 years. I should have studied in London, I should have applied myself more to my schoolwork, I should have spent a summer at an internship away. Simultaneously I took heart in the knowledge that these great people loved me, confided in me, missed me. I was surely doing something right in my life at that time to be surrounded by a circle of true friendship and camaraderie.
My husband always tells me I'm too hard on myself, and I know he's right. I had a wonderful college experience, full of interesting classes, amazing relationships, silliness, crushes, road trips, stupid arguments, parties, dancing... all the things that make going away from home for four years worthwhile and edifying. Hubby says, "You're just a late bloomer," and he's right again. Self-confidence and a willingness to try new things came relatively later in life to me, and sometimes that's just how it goes. Better late than never, I say. Still, reading all those letters dredged up old self-doubt.
With a box and a half to go through, part of me wants to just chuck it all! Sometimes it's better to let your old life rest, let your former self stay mostly forgotten.