The Weight of Memory

If my home were a bed and breakfast and I had a website with pictures, one of my spare bedrooms might be described as “The Memory Room.”

“The Memory Room is ideal for the ‘morning person.’  Bright sunlight streams through northeasterly windows offering solemn views of trees, telephone lines, and a neighbor’s solar panels.  The Memory Room features a full-size bed, a dorm refrigerator, and full access to the owner’s college ephemera, photographs, and writings.”

I was working in “The Memory Room” this weekend, looking for my flower and vegetable seeds (stored under the full-size bed).  I found a ring binder with typewritten, photocopied pages.  It was Professor Jack Wilson’s Writing the Academic Essay, our “text” for a mid-level writing class I took at the University of Maine at Orono.  How I admired Professor Wilson.  I can see him in my mind’s eye now, always wearing khaki pants and a light blue short-sleeved Oxford shirt.  He was a generally stern and scholarly professor, confident in his knowledge.  I took one other class with him, “Literature of the Bible.”

I’m sure I wanted to do well in the class, but as I look through the margins of Writing the Academic Essay, my scribblings tell a different story.

“I don’t know what this is we’re doing because I was taking my vitamins when class started.”


“I don’t like the word ‘subjectivity.’”

I would never want to open a bed and breakfast in my home.  No airbnb, either.  But I would like to file all those college papers, photographs, and scraps of paper into meaningful piles and places.  For some things, like the blurry photographs taken before iPhones, that might mean burning them in the fire pit out back.  For others, it might be blog material.  It’s slow progress sorting through everything and making decisions.  These things are heavy with memory, each picture a leaden story relevant to almost no one but me.

With my list of 27 things to do in the garden today, I may only sort through a small stack of pictures.

How about that bearded iris, though?  Sharon Pardis, who hosted a stop on the 2016 Kennebec Valley Garden Club tour, was giving them away.  It took forever, so it seemed, to plant them that summer.  They did not bloom last year.  But here they are, finally.

I just added “clean rain barrel” to my long list of things to do in the garden.  I’ll leave Jack Wilson’s guide book for another day.

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