Wouldn't you just rather forget?

Memory books. The popularity of "journal-ing". It's all about wanting to hang on to the lives we have created. But when we record or recall, are we honest with ourselves about the past? Searching through some papers I have kept here, I found two large envelopes containing typed notes from my early years as a fiction writer. Other things were happening too. Father dying, daughter testing me, trying relationships with friends, lovers. There it all is on yellow paper, typed with surprising accuracy. Berating myself for having wasted time, revisiting goals (finish novel, send out short stories), marking progress. Expressing emotional insecurity. Admiring the advent of another spring.

Reading those pages returns me to the house where I sat at my big desk, the metal typing table my dad gave me alongside. He always had an oak desk, too, and a typing table and used white newsprint, if not the yellow pulp paper I rolled in and stared at every day. Cigarette smoke and typewriters. Sitting for a long time, thinking, wanting to be brilliant. So Hellman-ish. The books that inspired me, including those of Walker Percy, a long time favourite. It's clear I was trying to find the right model, teacher, aid, while stuttering out the stories that became my first collection. The partial record of an apprenticeship. But the personal stuff, oh. Do I really want to recall relationship difficulties, especially with people who are part of my present life?

It's time for a clean out, and I can't decide what to do. Burning everything would be easiest. I'd never be able to risk stirring up deep emotions by opening that particular file. Of course I'd lose those notes on my apprenticeship, but do I really need faded ink on faded yellow to remind me of my striving, my determination?  I stopped questioning my commitment years ago. I'm a lifer. Working on something -- a novel, a story, a blog -- each day is a habit I would feel lonely without.

The people who were in my life then, well some of them are still in my life and they have changed as I have. Time has filled the cracks that divided us, so why not just destroy the evidence of struggle? For while those pages remind that there is always difficulty at the beginning, and beginnings can include a good portion of people's lives, it might be best to bury the documenting of them in the cavern where memories doze. There they would moulder and begin to disintegrate. If something should wake them, they would be fuzzy and harmless and easily dismissed. Shh, go back to sleep. As for truth, it may not be all it's cracked up to be. There's a reason for selective memory.