Friday, March 4, 2011

Floodgates into the past

The stars, or whatever, have been oddly aligning lately to make me far more reflective about the long-ago past than I have been in ages. Maybe this has nothing to do with a journalist pursuing an MBA, but maybe it has everything to do with it. After all, I'm heading into major transition, so reflection isn't unwarranted.

Several recent incidents have exacerbated any natural introspection that would be happening at this point. For one, I've been reading my grandfather's book, on reincarnation no less. Another is that I began digging into the past a bit during a visit to Yale Counseling Services (prompted by my previously written-about abandonment of drinking, brought on by a personal concern about how I was metabolizing, or failing to metabolize, alcohol). Third is that I ran into my ex from college randomly, and we had lunch this week. And the fourth -- perhaps a result of the first three -- is that I've been scanning old pictures onto my computer, and posting some into albums on Facebook.

For many years, through many moves, I've been carrying around a box of pictures that has become increasingly less organized over time. The collection consists primarily of photos from when I was about 16 to 22, because that's when I was old enough to have interesting things to photograph and young enough not to have had this hobby thwarted by the ease of digital photography.

In this box are two photo albums my mom gave of assorted pictures from childhood, such as the one at the top of this blog of me in the breakfast room of the house I grew up in. I think this was in the mid to late '80s. Scanning these pictures made me wonder, for the first time, whether it would be hard/easy/creepy to get in touch with the family that moved into my old house, which I lived in from age 0 to 20. Turned out to be simple, thanks to Facebook, and not creepy, thanks to my talent for tactful note-writing. I sent a few of the old pictures to the matriarch of the house, and we've since exchanged some nice long notes.

The activity of actually engaging with the people who live in my old house, and of discussing the ways it's changed, has been -- and I use this world carefully -- unique. I can't quite articulate my feelings about it. It's both sad and, in a way, empowering almost to the point of being joyful. It's not as if I hadn't let go, but I think establishing this connection takes "letting go" to a higher emotional plane; perhaps I had come to accept letting go, and now I'm actually embracing it. 

Anyway, this is a heavy topic that combines childhood-to-adulthood transition, family dynamics and other topics far beyond the scope of this blog. To some people, getting an MBA is a hoop to making more money. To others, it's a very obtuse angle in the road, and as you're making that turn, it's probably natural to look behind you.

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