Should you open a time capsule? It’s a question I’ve been asking myself for the past week. Ever since my parents decided to do some cleaning up. One minute I’m laughing at them because they’re up to their ears in tax returns that date back to sometime before God was a boy. The next they’re handing me a suitcase.
“We think this is yours,” said Dad. “We had to go through it to see. There’s pictures of you and sister B, but there are letters too. Letters from [insert name of former boyfriend].”
Oh. Weird. I still haven't opened the suitcase.
I’d like to make it clear at this point that this is a relationship that’s been over for twice the seven years it lasted. Not recent. Not festering. Not even thought about for years. But I haven’t opened that suitcase.
When The Builder and I packed up our Sydney house, home for nearly ten years, I remember thinking that I didn’t have many photos. He has albums full of pictures of his travels overseas, his friends, his girlfriends, his full (but not full enough, clearly) life before he met me. I had nothing. The two years I travelled overseas were well-documented, but there was nothing before and nothing much after.
I didn’t think too much about it because I’ve never been a snap-happy person. I like to experience moments rather than waste them trying to capture them for posterity. I have clear memories of watching in disgust the tourist couple in Venice as they floated past – him hanging out one side of the gondola with a video camera, not wanting to ‘miss’ a minute for their friends back home; her sitting, hands in lap, staring into space. Why go?
In hindsight, given that I have a memory like a sieve, I probably should have taken more pictures in my youth. I’ve made up for it in the past six years though – the combination of children and digital technology has increased my output to about 3000 images a year. (Most of them hiding on my hard disk. Why bother?)
Anyway, it seems that the lost chapter of my life has reappeared, magicked out of the back of Dad’s shed. Noone can remember when it was put there. Given the chronological markers – we’re looking at taking a core sample of the artefacts around it – it’s been there for at least 15 years.
And now it’s in my shed. An obstacle to be worked around when I get the pram out, or the bikes in. For a week now I’ve been looking at it. An innocuous brown vinyl suitcase, buckled and tagged. I’m curious, I admit. But part of me also wonders whether it’s a chapter that needs re-opening.
I’ve lived without its contents for a long time. Haven’t missed them. And I’m on a whole new page these days.Do I just go with that and throw the whole thing out, buckled and tagged? What would you do?