Scrapbooking hardly counts as art, I said. His silence politely agreed. But I wouldn’t ever claim it as such, I continued. It’s always been about preserving memories, and more recently catharsis.
In college, scrapbooking became a right of passage for me. A strict process was in place; photos were not touched for the first three days of break, then around the fourth day they were selected and printed, and within the next 48 hours (usually in 2-3 installments of 6-9 hours at a time) the book was finished. The book was then displayed for the next semester and eventually put on a shelf in the closet with the others (currently there are 27). Like many things of value in my life this process had to be done ritualistically, and finishing a book meant the ability to draw closure from time brackets that left me emotionally raw. To Scrapbook became a verb suggesting a finishing and a feeling of healthy detachment from things that were now only history. And, in those years I affectionately refer to as the LBN-shitshow, this became crucial.
But as we were speaking about scrapbooking I got to thinking about what else I might get from scrapbooking. It seemed incomplete to believe that all this hard work was nothing but a shout from my soul reminding the world that it was alive and kicking somewhere in there. I pulled out a few books, put on some mello mix, lit some candles, and started flipping through. I’d almost forgotten about our Valentine’s Day Pink Party (complete with Pink Andre, obviously). And our tea party at the lodge to break Ramadan. And those crazy minutes between rounds of formal recruitment. And what about our adventures eating Chinese or breaking bread at Gratzi? And Semi-Formal at Rives Junction (planned 3 days in advance), beach picnics, flaming cheese, flaming kitchens, foam parties, standing in a line with 3 girls while Adam dove between our legs to bowl a strike.
Scrapbooking gives a person the chance to preserve their favorite memories, decorate them with glitter and flowers, and to cut away the edges that weren’t worth saving. Arm fat caused by a bad angled shot. Awkward and embarassing faces. The extra empty space.
I don’t mean being fake. I don’t mean lying about what happened and how it felt and pretending that there isn’t a reason I picked black scrapbooks for sophomore year and the background page colors get more muted every year. What I mean is cutting away the things that don’t matter. The things that bend us – all of us – out of shape and that get in the way of remembering how lucky each of us was to know the rest. Yes Amos, sometimes we do forget who we’ve got, who they are and who they are not.
Lately I’ve been engrossed in remembering how miserable that cornfield made us. How wonderful it is to be out and how even the suburbs feel like a breath of fresh air. But what about the times that school didn’t suck? What about the times when we ran and danced and screamed and tickled and fake kick-boxed and loved eachother like crazy. Remember that?
I do. And it was wonderful.
“No love, no friendship can cross the path of our destiny without leaving some mark on it forever.” -Francois Muriac