Back in school I dated every piece of work because I was told I had to. It was drilled into me right from the beginning to date the document in front of me for the records of my educators. I didn’t question it, I didn’t fight it, I just did it. This tiny little habit I kept through all the years came about more significant than ever in an unexpected way. At the time I wrote down those seemingly unimportant dates I didn’t even begin to comprehend the impact they could have, and would have on future me.
Five years after graduating high school, whilst in a spur of the moment mid-summer clean, I stumbled across some of my old papers, report cards and artwork. I was amazed at how far some of them went back and cringed at the terrible hand writing from my ‘copy my big sisters cool style’ phase. I laughed at some of the comments on my report cards, especially the one that read I spent most of my time gazing out of the classroom window and not studying! Well… I would have spent more time listening to my teachers if I could understand what my substitute teacher was saying! A substitute teacher who is learning science at the same time they are teaching it doesn’t make for a great learning experience – just saying.
That one comment on my report card lead to my brain replaying memory after memory after memory from that year until you could practically smell the nostalgia on me. So many things I had forgotten suddenly resurfaced. The classroom, my peers, our teachers… all of it in fragments suddenly swarming before my eyes for me to relive again. At the same time I smiled at the mischief we managed a sense of sadness loomed over me. Amongst the memories of the laughter were faces I never saw anymore – some by choice, some by circumstance and one by the curse of time.
For each year of high school I had a class photo as well as page of our individual portraits. Almost like a game of Guess Who, one by one, pictures would disappear over the years until only a select number remained. At the time these photos were taken I would have given anything to get out of them. It’s funny how your perspective can change… from wanting to get out of every photo opportunity that came by to wishing I had more of them to hold on to.
By looking at the papers and photos from my high school days an entire year of my life was briefly relived in my mind. All that it took was looking at the date I wrote down all those years ago never knowing the impact it would have on me in the future. I think that’s why I get goose-bumps when I knowingly write down the date on something that’s going to be stored, particularly my writing… because I know that five years from now I may look back on this time and relive these years, that one day I will look back down at the faded ink and think to myself, this is where it all began.