Thinking Back On The Backup Bash

Man I don’t know.

I got a little dizzy earlier and am just trying to get through the work day. Not sure what to write about. So much in my head that I can’t really focus on anything in particular!

And I slept like crap, which probably has everything to do with everything.

Memories of the Backup Bash are circulating on FB lately, as our 10 year anniversary approaches nearer the end of the year. SO CRAZY to think it’s been 10 years since I got on a plane to go to my first convention in the US – a Firefly-themed Flanvention that promised to be just as amazing as I’d heard the first one had been and my excitement was through the roof! I even had a t-shirt made for one of the many photo ops I’d purchased ahead of time. Ten years since my plane landed in Burbank California and I found out the convention had been cancelled. Ten years since the SoCal Browncoats and members of the Firefly cast and crew (aka REAL Big Damn Heroes) rose up and cobbled together one of the most unforgettable and life-changing weekends of my life, the Browncoats Backup Bash. Or B3, as we call it. Ten years since I found myself drinking in an exclusive bar, not yet open to the public, in downtown Hollywood with the cast of my favourite show, busloads of Browncoats and even a few surprise guests who felt like joining the party.

Ten years since I first learned to trust and follow The Hat.

That weekend was the sole reason I ended up on the Browncoat Cruise the following year, where I would shake hands with the love of my life. So when I say it changed me, I mean it in such a way as to express that the emotions and connections and pure experiences of that crazy random happenstance are still very much with me to this day. There’s never been anything like it, nor will there ever be again.

Though how tempted am I to jump on a plane and head to Burbank for the tenth anniversary reunion currently being planned?

If I could just toss all responsibility aside and go be with my people – including said love of life – I can’t even express…like, my mind works so differently now. I’ve been constantly stressed and anxious about keeping my life from falling apart again for most of the past 7 years, or so. Every decision is made carefully and with concern over whether or not I can get away with it; make it work out in the end. What would I give for the opportunity to throw such caution to the wind and just do it. Just go do something that makes me happy and freaking work it out later.

I can’t even remember what it was like to be that person. Yet part of me is still aware that I’ve always been able to make things work out. Definitely not always as I’d hoped or planned, but still – I’m here. Here I still am; carving out my life, and creating my world. Earlier today I likened it to swimming with water wings. I’m not getting very far, but I’ll still afloat.

Adulting is dumb. Why can’t I just take a weekend off from it once in awhile, really?

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Boxing Memories

Had a bit of a nightmare last night. Or, not exactly that, but a highly unpleasant dream. Not frightening in any way, really, but definitely left me feeling heavy after; a feeling which won’t be departing any time soon. The details aren’t important, and while the content of the dream I had after I went back to sleep was much more enjoyable, even that added to the heaviness when I awoke this morning. Just in a different way.

I’m resigned to this feeling now, I think. At least to sit with it for a time, and see how things go.

I’m not up to fighting it anymore right now.

I wish I could write more truth. And write it better than anything I am able to write now. The book I am reading currently is filled with snippets of truth laid out so simply before the reader that one could easily look right past it without pausing to take it in and realize what it actually is. I started taking pictures of certain passages with my phone; moments that ring true to me and that I want to remember beyond the pages of the book itself.

I considered finishing the book last night before bed, but I’m not quite ready to be done with it yet. I also haven’t decided what I’m reading next. So I dawdle.

There was a line about catching a brief glimpse of the contents of a box, and while not able to list off each individual item, seeing enough to realize that it’s all “the things a person in love collects when she’s not loved in return”. I read that line and my mind immediately went to all the little boxes of random items collected during past relationships of my own. At the time, they were mementos, which turned into painful reminders of what was lost after the relationship ended. And yet kept in a box at the back of my closet…or wherever…I think there are a few of them, but all scattered about and buried under other possessions. For what reason would I, or anyone else, keep such things?

I mean, definitely a large part of it is my irrational fear of forgetting my life. Even though I know I won’t likely forget any of those people (they are part of who I am now, and most of them are still in my life, to some degree or other), and even though I could look at many of those random items now and have no idea what the fuck they are supposed to be reminding me of, or what memory they are tied to – even though I logically know all this, there is still a feeling of comfort in having those things around. In knowing that I could look at them if I wanted to, and that at least some memories are still in there.

I imagine there is also some sort of therapeutic value in tucking everything about a person from your past away into a box and putting it out of sight, but still within reach. Not burning the bridge, but not using it anymore, either. I’ve never been the sort to try and forget a person, especially not if their only crime was in not loving me back the same way I loved them. It’s not usually an anger-inducing feeling, on my end; more resignation, and a sense of “well of course not – why would someone like you love someone like me this same way” sort of thing. Which isn’t meant to come across as mopey as it no doubt sounds. I tend to view it more as a confirmation of something I already know, or at least suspect. I have a hard time holding it against other people, when it’s something I already feel myself.

I realize there is the whole self-fulfilling prophecy argument to be made, too, but again – logic doesn’t really dictate feeling, at least not in my experience. So I get it – but I don’t feel it, so save your breath on that one!

Anyway, the thing which struck me more about the whole sentence in the book and how it relates to my life is in the idea that one can know they are not loved in return, and yet choose to love, anyway. Choose to allow themselves to love. It wouldn’t just be a risk, then, but a foregone conclusion that the relationship – friendship – whatever it is, will come to an end. Not necessarily in a permanent, no contact ever again kind of way, but that whatever it is for each person will change, and not be the same again for either of them. Maybe they grow apart, maybe they betray one another in some way, maybe they have an explosive break-up and really do never see one another again. Maybe they grow to hate the one they once loved. There are all kinds of ways that love dies; and all manner of reasons. But choosing to love, anyway, even when you already know you’re not loved back the same way – it could be a bit noble, or needy, or outright dumb – but the fact is that someone chose love, and maybe the box of random memories serves as more a reminder of having made that choice, rather than of the specific circumstances themselves.

Or I could just be trying to make myself feel better about saving so much crap, and justifying that to no one who asked. Well, except myself.

It’s funny, too, how much space is taken up with mementos of relationships past. One of my best and arguably healthiest relationships – which I don’t really talk about because it’s hard to make someone who wasn’t there understand – is pretty much relegated to the pages of a journal I kept at the time, and a framed photograph that hangs on the wall. I don’t think she got a box, and yet the few physical items I do have are some of the most personal and…intimate, but not in the way you’re thinking…items I’ve kept from pretty much any other relationship I’ve had. It’s not much, but it’s some of the most powerful.

My last relationship is literally everywhere. There is a bin in my closet of things, but that’s mostly because there’s just not space to put everything where it can be visible. Believe me, plenty of the memories we created together are visible. From a hanging over my bed, to some of the clothes that I wear, to a ring on my finger – moments of ours are all around me, and very much a part of me, even now.

Maybe more now than then, in many ways.

One ex is kept almost entirely in a shoebox – but a nice one. It’s decorated.

My first actual relationship is I believe in an empty Kleenex box. Or two. That plastic window with the slit makes it easy to add small objects and paper notes. Like a piggy bank but not. I think there are photos and letters in one of the folders or envelopes on my bookshelf, too, but it’s been so long since I even looked at them that I am not exactly sure where they are now, or if I even still have them.

Friendship stuff is even more scattered, but just as important, and just as much a part of who I am now. All through school I boxed everything up together by year. After graduating with my first undergrad degree is where things get a little sketchy; strewn about and less organized.

I’m pretty certain I still have a pop cap that a boy I liked gave me (as a joke) in first year university, though. It meant nothing, and yet still something, somehow.

My most recent best friend has finally found herself a nice new one with a penis, which is amazing for her, as it’s what she’s been wanting for a very long time. I’m honoured to have been chosen as the one to hold his place for him until he could get there, though a little sad for myself now. Haha The important thing is that she’s finally happy, and I am better at intermittent friendshipping, anyway, so I don’t have to worry about failing nearly so often now. That’s definitely a good thing. It was making me sad to constantly come up short, so while I’ll definitely miss our time together, I know that everything is much better for her now. She’s finally in the kind of good place she deserves, and that makes me happy. 🙂

I meant to write more about truth than I have, but I got distracted by boxes of memories and why I would still keep them. I am not even sure I’ve completely delved as far into those reasons as I could or should, but this post somehow got long again. I will say that I’ve been struggling much more lately about how much truth to reveal to those who know me, as well as which specific details should be shared. I don’t think I understand, like, normal human interactions. Haha

I often try to mimic or match what I see from others – like if someone tells me something personal, I try to return that by sharing something equally personal about myself. If I can determine a proper scale of personal-ness, of course. It seems more difficult to me lately, though. I don’t know if that’s because I have more things that I could speak openly about that are different from before – like current events instead of just the past – or if I’m getting less from those around me so I’m not sure when I’ve crossed the TMI line, and thus stay silent more often due to more uncertainty. I don’t know. I don’t know.

For some reason, so much feels new to me now. It’s not like I’ve never had friends or relationships before, but either I’m different or they’re different or, more likely, both. I haven’t figured out how to navigate the world, I guess. The way I used to doesn’t work for me anymore, and I have yet to discover a way that does.

I’d probably have more luck if I spent less time talking to a dog and three cats, huh?

Seeing Differences

When I was accepted to teacher’s college, I found I’d been placed in a rather unique section of the program called Urban Diversity. I was in the 10th group of cohorts for that particular program, and it was kind of interesting to see all the different people who were in my class, as well as who, for the most part, would become my friend by the end of the school year.

The Urban Diversity section of the Education program focused more on teaching children in classrooms and schools which are more reflective of the city’s diverse population. I remember someone once commented on how “white” my Grade 6 class was, and I countered with the fact that about 80% of them didn’t speak English as their first language, which would obviously contain a different set of struggles from those who were being taught by someone of a different skin tone.

Anyway, it was cool to look at the notion of teaching each child, as opposed to teaching a classroom of children. Seeing difference, and teaching to it, was the opposite of everything I thought society had taught me thus far, but as soon as it was discussed on, like, Day One, it all suddenly made sense to me. The whole “everyone is equal” model doesn’t really work. Everyone is not equal, and punishing those who are ahead by forcing them to slow down, or leaving behind anyone who can’t keep up, is just silly, and counter-productive.

So I learned about teaching from a different perspective, compared to the other sections within the Education program, and it stressed me out. I was painfully aware of not being able to fully teach to each child, and of how things I said or did could be received by one child far differently from how it was interpreted by another. I hurt one of my best Grade 8 kid’s feelings because I stopped calling on her for a time. She thought I hated her; I thought I was trying to give other quieter kids a chance to speak. We got it sorted out, but I’ll never forget how flabbergasted I was that she could think I didn’t like her. She was my go-to kid if things ever became too frustrating because I knew she always got it. That was an important lesson to learn, and to keep learning. Because everyone is different, after all.

But it didn’t help with my non-existent teaching career, in that I never really got my feet under me and felt the confidence I would need in my abilities to run a classroom.

I can’t run a classroom. Haha

Anyway, in the Education classroom, on non-teaching days, I sat at the Table of Misfit Toys with my regulars. My friends, the other oddballs who didn’t quite fit in. We were often the most fun, and sometimes other teacher candidates would join us just because we were that awesome. I still liked almost everyone else in the room, of course. I just didn’t have much in common with them, and felt like I didn’t fit in as well as I did with my eclectic mix.

What’s interesting is what I was told later from my main guy, Marc. I haven’t seen him in well over a decade, but at the time, we were quite close, and went through a lot together, even after the school year ended. He’s a brilliant young guy, whose brain never stops working things out, and has one of the best, warmest smiles ever. It goes right to his eyes. I actually hate that we lost touch, and keep hoping we’ll just bump into one another again someday.

So anyway, Marc got into grad school, and did his Masters of Education, as well. He was, therefore, still in touch with the man who had created the Urban Diversity division, Dr. Patrick Solomon. Dr. Solomon sadly passed away some time ago from stupid cancer, but he left quite a legacy in his wake. He was the first person I met when I got to campus on Day One (he walked me to class), and hugged me on stage during our graduation ceremonies. According to Marc, Dr. Solomon confided in him once that our table of misfits, for the most part, all started off the program in the mindset/headspace of where he wanted everyone to end up. That was not only an enormous compliment, but also explained why we’d gotten so frustrated so often when we were doing the learning instead of the teaching. I was of the understanding that there was something we just weren’t getting (there was even an extra IEP for me at one point – , whereas the reality was that we’d already gotten it, but had to sit through the rest of the year not progressing while we waited for the rest of the class to catch up.

That’s not necessarily meant to come across as bragging, though I suppose it kind of is, but more to explain the fish-out-of-water sensation that I’d felt for so long, and that I knew I was capable of passing on to kids in my classes. Classes I’d never have, as it turned out, but at the time, it was a hefty weight on my mind.

It’s occurred to me in recent days that I’m feeling much that same way again now, sometimes. I think that’s why I can’t express myself in a way that anyone else quite understands. Partly because I am just not articulate, and partly because I’ve already gone through all the stuff they’re saying and trying to progress further, but I have to keep going back to the last save point, so to speak, to see if I can catch everyone else up; get us all on the same page, before I can turn the page. We just rarely seem to get there, which means I rarely go any further myself, even just in my own head.

Maybe this is part of how the internet is making us dumber. We’re exposed to more people, so we spend even more time trying to find common ground and get on the same page that we actually never get through the first chapter, let alone past it. We spend more time feeling and reacting than we do thinking, because it’s instant. Or, as fast as we can type. The fact that so much conversation is done online instead of in person means that more is misunderstood due to lack of vocal inflection, body language, and eye contact. Everything looks black and white on the page, so we’re all starting to think that’s what the world is. One or the other; all or nothing; left or right (haha CToT xo).

But it’s not. There are more shades of grey than we can even sense, and it’s exciting and invigorating to explore them, but we never do. There’s just no time, which is funny, considering how quick and automated things are now compared to life prior to the Industrial Revolution, say.

Not that I am old enough to remember that.

I do remember the 80’s, though, and parts of the 70’s…I remember life before the world was opened up to us via the World Wide Web. I remember phones with rotary dials and cords that got tangled up and stretched to shit. I remember no cable and only 3 channels via antenna. I remember going outside to play, riding my bike around town, going home when the streetlights came on, handwriting letters, and book reports and essays. I remember when computer mainframes took up entire rooms, and cordless phones were new and enormous.

I remember when everything was slower, and yet there was more time to think.

Orange-Tinted Memoirs

Sometimes I wonder what I would write about, if I were to write the story of my life. What would I include? What would I consider to be my defining moments? What would I have forgotten about and then remember suddenly along the way, during the process of writing it all down? What would I deliberately leave out and why?

Actually, I can already think of more things I would leave out than I can of things I would include, if I’m being honest.

The story of my life would…well, the things I’d include would be true, at least from my perspective and to my recollection. But the lies of omission would be many many many.

My great-grandmother started writing down her memories, and some dedicated family members typed them up and printed them off into book form, one of which gratefully found its way into my possession. I haven’t read the entire thing from cover to cover as of yet, but I have perused it on more than one occasion, and I have to say, it’s a fascinating read. The woman lived to be 100 years old, and the things she saw and did throughout her life are nothing short of remarkable to me. She lived in a whole different world than I do, and her recollections bring that world alive, even if just for brief segments, in her own words.

I wonder sometimes what someone decades from now would think about my memories of growing up, of becoming an adult, and the often-failed attempts at adulting which I now make? Looking back, the world I grew up in was vastly different from what we’re navigating now. No cell phones, no internet, no blogs, computers took up an entire room for a bit there, we left our doors unlocked when we were out, we played outside and rode our bikes around, we (perhaps naively, but still) trusted news media, we read books more than we played video games because for several years, we had to go to an arcade to play video games. And they cost a quarter, which was expensive. I wonder, sometimes, if someone who only learned of those times through impersonal history classes and the like, would be as fascinated by my first-hand accounts of it as I am with my great-grandmother’s stories.

This morning, I was trying to figure out what one of my earliest childhood memories would be. It wouldn’t necessarily be important enough to include in an autobiographical kind of collection, but I was interested to see how far back I could remember. Memory is a crazy thing, really. So much of it includes what we’ve been told, or photos we’ve seen, or video…there was no video when I was little, either. Kids now grow up on camera. We had film. Film that had to be sent away to a lab for developing, in most cases. And my family had a projector upon which we watched home movies and…I want to say there was also a Keystone Cop adventure of some sort. I remember a car getting stuck on some railroad tracks, and the train was coming, and at the last second, they pulled the car in half, let the train pass, then pushed the halves back together again. My brother and I would make our dad play it backwards and forwards again while we laughed and laughed, because it was the greatest thing ever. Never got old.

Anyway.

That’s an early memory, but I don’t really have anything to pinpoint how early it was. It was more of an ongoing thing, anyway. Projector nights, with reels of film that had to be placed properly on the projector for it to play. I wish we still had that, actually. I would like to experiment with it a little, now that I think about it.

So, while that’s definitely an early memory, I do have one that’s earlier, and that I can pinpoint almost to the date. The year and month, anyway. It would have been September 1975, probably early in the month. And on a Sunday. We were at a park – I forget the name – in Orillia for the then-annual Maynard Family Reunion. I was eager to show off my new baby brother, who had been born in April. He was born on my mom’s birthday, but at the time, I only cared about my birthday, if that, and didn’t really know when anyone else’s was. He was dressed all in blue – very manly, but for the bonnet – and when some family members came over to say hello, I decided to display my amazing skills at big sistering, so I tickled him a little.

He cried.

I was sure I’d never been so humiliated in my whole life (I was, by that point, 3 years old). I was pretty sure I hated him for embarrassing me, but on some not-so-deep level, I knew I’d tickled him too hard, and that it was actually my fault, and that what I was feeling was guilt, and not hate. I just didn’t have words or understanding of complex emotions yet. All I knew was that I felt bad, and that it was related to something he’d done (as a result of something I’d done, but whatever). Fortunately for both of us, he was cute – if bald – and generally a pretty likeable little kid.

Oddly enough, that is my only memory of my brother as an infant. Every other memory of him is after he got a bit older – probably because he could then play with me. Before that, he was probably really boring. Cute, but boring.

I think I totally have a picture of us from that day, so if I can find it tonight, I’ll add it to whatever I end up posting tomorrow. It was the 70’s, so everything is probably quite orange in the photo, but that’s how we rolled once we moved from black and white to technicolor. Our memories became tinted with orange.

Also kind of odd is that I can’t remember anything from before my brother was born. I remember wanting to show him off a few months after he came along, but I don’t remember being an only child, or my mom being pregnant, or anything. I don’t remember a time when he wasn’t there. He would go on to piss me off many many more times after that (and I suppose I would piss him off, too, but not nearly as often, I’m sure), but I find a certain comfort in not being able to remember a time when he wasn’t around to irritate me.

Maybe that’s what sibling love is all about.

Comfort Food

I had to grab a few quick groceries on my way home from work last night, and while I was in the store, I found I needed to stop myself from picking up a box of Kraft Dinner and some hot dogs and combine them to make my lunches for the week. It would have been a throwback to my childhood – I could almost taste the fake cheesy deliciousness, and craved it bad.

In the end, though, I wondered if I’d still crave it as much on Friday as I did on Monday night, so I compromised.

Like so many other things, food can reall spark memories and feelings from long ago. Comfort food can not only take us back, but make us feel a certain way. It can make us feel safe, or cared for, especially when we’re sick. It can make us feel warm inside. Hence the term, really.

Macaroni and hot dogs was a staple when growing up, and in my mind it would still serve very well as comfort food for me today. Though I would do more to it now – add cayenne pepper, maybe some bacon bits or spinach or something, as well. There would be more variety with it than straight up KD and weiners. I haven’t had it in years, but I think even then, with extra flavours added in, it would still serve its purpose on some level.

Chicken noodle soup, grilled cheese, gingerale – those all make me feel better when I have a cold or am generally not feeling great. Breakfast for dinner is still a delightful treat.

In elementary school, I used to eat a peanut butter and honey sandwich pretty much every day for lunch. I think so, anyway. It’s entirely possible I’m just remembering it wrong. But I think my brother and I both ate a lot of them, regardless of the actual daily value. We differed on the kind of honey we liked best, I think. He liked “runny honey” and I preferred creamed honey. Buckwheat honey was a real favourite, so of course it’s difficult to find these days. Not as many buckwhat plants out there feeding the bees anymore. Now it’s a specialty item. Like my beloved honey butter.

Turns out we both prefer our sandwiches cut differently, too. He likes the diagonal, I prefer straight down the middle. Same sandwich, but somehow the cut makes all the difference! Weird how brains mess with us!

Can chips count as comfort food? Because I still totally love them, especially now that I eat them so rarely. Chocolate ice cream is the same – I used to lose my ever loving mind if we ran out of chocolate ice cream and there wasn’t any for me to have when I got home from school. I was the only one who ate it, so it was my fault usually, if I forgot to alert my mom that I’d had the last of it or was running low. I always had to have my bowl of ice cream, which the cat would then lick clean after, of course.

Some foods and beverages have bad memories attached, and that can affect whether or not you grow to like them as an adult. Or like when you get sick on too many screwdrivers and can’t stand the taste of orange juice for a year or two after. Hypothetically.

My mom used to make cool things, too, that I really miss, and sometimes I wonder why I don’t just make them myself now. Like how she’d grill a piece of bread with cheese and bacon on it, then cut it into squared with toothpicks holding it all together into bite-sized bits of heaven. Or what we’d call “logs”, which was toast with a layer of peanut butter, a layer of honey, and then cut length-wise into strips, everything all melting together. Sooo good!

Finally, there was the brown sugar and cinnamon concoction – also on toast. Basically some brown sugar spread on (thinly, since we weren’t aiming to become diabetic or anything) and then cinnamon sprinkled on top. I miss that taste sensation so much!

Of course, I’d weigh 8 billion pounds if I ate like that now.

Why does anyone want to grow up ever when, for the most part, adulting totally sucks?!

What are some of your comfort foods? Mine seem to be based around breakfast, lunch, and snacks. Haha

We didn’t often eat together as a family, though, so that might affect some of my food-related memories, as well. My dinner memories are more related to scent, I think. Like roast beef and potatoes and gravy in the oven.

I think I love food. But my relationship with it has never been very healthy.

I wonder if it’s possible to change that?

Bikes and Forts

It’s nice outside today, so I went for a long-ish walk with Mr Brodykins.  Along the way, we passed a small dead-end, cul-de-sac street where upon children played on a tire swing and had a game of street hockey on the go.  I almost paused to take a photo, as if capturing someone else’s moment would somehow preserve it in time and make it mine.

I have plenty of my own moments, however, so we carried on our way.  It did manage to conjur up my memories of some of those similar childhood antics, though.

I think, even though we also played street hockey and had swings, with us it was more bikes and forts.  It was small town Ontario in the 70’s and early 80’s, and we didn’t even lock our doors for at least part of that.  We went out to play, the whole village was our playground, and the main rule was that we had to be home before the streetlights came on.  Which we failed at on a regular basis, arguing that there was no way to know WHEN the lights would come on, so how could we know when to start heading home?

Um…because it was starting to get dark?

Anyway.

We were always out on our bikes.  And when we weren’t physically riding, there were no locks or bike racks.  We just tipped them over and left them by the side of the road until we needed them again.  En masse, usually.  That’s how we knew where to find one another.

Ramps were a big thing, too.  Anything from an uneven sidewalk to a plank leaning on a stack of newspapers would service as a means to a jump.  We destroyed so much stuff, yet still survived to tell the tale.  Remarkably, looking back on it now.

Someone not me had a Green Machine.  I’m still kind of jealous of that.

Anything could serve as a fort, too.  Blankets, of course, or a section flattened out of long grass or lilac bushes, a platform in a tree.  Playing indoors, we even used books opened and standing in a ‘v’ and lined up to create rooms and the like.  Sometimes less creative areas served as forts, as well.  Like the old ice cream trailer thingy.  Until the police got involved, of course.

Anyway.

For a while, a group of us created our own version of The A-Team.  Except without the helping people thing.  I was the only girl, so of course I was Hannibal.  The minister’s son got to be Amy.  We set up a bank account that eventually closed with something like $0.14 or something in it.  We’d had a bit more in it, but we’d decided to build a wee fire and have hot dogs.

We were pretty hardcore.

Hands Of Time

I have a thing for hands.

For as long as I can remember, really, as I’m pretty sure it existed even before I noticed it, this affinity for the look and shape of hands.

To my mind, you can tell a lot about a person by their hands. Not specifics, like their favourite colour, or their childhood pet’s name. It’s more of a vague sense of who a person is on the inside; a glimpse into their identity. Our hands grow and change as we do, and while much attention is focused on superficial matters like wrinkles, or gray hairs, there is somehow a kind of personality that resides in hands. They just speak a simple, basic truth – in the way they look, the way they move, the way they touch and the way they feel. They are both an internal and external extension of who we are as individuals.

Much of our public identity can be determined by hands. Fingerprints are unique to every individual human being on the planet, and handwriting analysis has been around for decades, if not longer. On the surface, these things are usually indicators of a person’s name. Beyond that, though, I believe there is much more to be gleaned about an individual’s identity from their hands and handwriting.

I remember watching an episode of Another World, back in the day, and there was a scene with a woman teaching a younger woman how to bake a pie, or something. She insisted that the girl do all of the steps herself, so that her “hands would remember how”. That one sentence struck me with such force of truth that it has stayed with me to this day. I think it was my first understanding of body memories, though I had no idea at the time. Even then, though, I knew that the act of doing something oneself was a far greater teacher than watching someone else do it, and trying to remember the steps later on. Our bodies are capable of storing information that our minds can not. Or, perhaps, our minds are inundated with so much each waking moment that it becomes easier and more accurate to access body memories in some cases, because our brains are working at a different, busier level. Even individual cells have memories, after all, so is it really any wonder that our ability to recollect thoughts, feelings, sensations, and events come from all over our bodies, instead of just that one organ parked upstairs?

Years ago, two things happened relatively close together that got me thinking about hands some more, and in a more specific way. I think that’s around the time that I started to realize my affinity for hands, and to notice things about them on a more regular basis. One was that, when going through some boxes of old school things, I came across a page of something my brother had done in Kindergarten or so. It had been printed on coloured paper, from a ditto machine (remember those delightful-smelling things?!) and there was a boxed-off section wherein he’d been asked to trace one of his hands. Maybe both, actually. I forget.

Anyway, there was a perfect outline – in crayon – of his pudgy little baby boy hand(s) on this sheet of paper, and just looking at it transported me back to a time when he was that wee and adorable. I could almost see him in my mind, the memory of him perfectly captured and preserved in that one (or two) little crayon outline of his hand. It was so powerful I had to, of course, take it to show my mom immediately.

The other thing was an episode of a TV show….or a movie…I don’t even remember what it was, or who was in it, or what was going on. I think there were two friends, both teenaged girls, and one was maybe moving away, or something? But one girl made the other girl trace her hand into her journal – they may have even swapped and traced their hands into each other’s journals – so that no matter where they were, a part of them would always be together. I remember tracing my own hand into my journal and, a page later, my kitty cat, Kate, stood on a page while I was trying to write, so I traced her little gray paw into it, as well. To most, I’m sure it looks like a squiggle on a page, but to me – it’s like I can still see her there, in that outline of her paw. It feels as though part of her is still with me whenever I look at it.

An ex and I had gotten our claspsed hands molded in wax at some point. Right before we broke up, the wax began to melt and we ended up throwing the piece of crap away, along with our relationship. Haha

Lesson learned.

The next time I would mold my hand with another’s would be with someone I’ve loved much more and for much longer than the wax person, and we did it in plaster this time. It’s surviving temperature changes just fine, over a year later and counting!

I love to create things with my hands. I still wash dishes by hand. I often carry a stone or crystal in my pocket to hold or fidget with whenever I feel the need. It’s comforting to me; grounding. I like textures, and usually find an excuse to make contact with the ones I am drawn to – the bark of a tree, leaf of a plant or flower, anything that looks shiny or soft. haha When sitting on a beach I love the feeling of pushing my hands into the warm sand and feeling its coolness underneath. There is a connection there, a tangible sense of oneness with the earth itself.

I used to have pen pals all over the world, and I have boxes still in my apartment of the letters I received, along with cards and notes from family and friends. There is something more – intimate, and personal – in a handwritten note than in any typed text or email. Now, my penmanship has always been ass, but at the same time, it’s changed very little over the course of my life. I’ve been printing since Grade 8 by choice, but still know mostly how to write in cursive. It’s just much harder to read. Not that my printing is much easier. But anyway. I dated someone once who would, looking back, be remembered as probably the best and healthiest relationship I’ve ever had. For my birthday one year I was given a framed photograph – taken and developed – by that person, and a hand-written card. It was the card that made me tear up, because I realized that it was the first time I’d seen her handwriting. Somehow that made me feel like we were even closer.

Such a little thing. Handwriting. And yet, so much of a person can be seen in it.

I wonder if all this technology and interwebs and cellular service is actually doing more damage than good, in terms of bringing people closer together. I don’t remember the last time I sent a handwritten card or letter to someone…probably the crappy handmade Valentine card I sent to Colorado one year. 😉

I find I still take pen to paper when I am planning something, or writing to sort something out, or what have you. I have several of those old school composition books at home, and at least one more notebook on the go currently. My Guinness World Record attempt and resulting follow-up projects are all contained in one such composition book, as well. All written by my messy – but very me – hand.

I feel like we might be losing something in our insistence upon typing everything now. I think we might be losing some connection, and replacing it with something more surface-level. Something slightly cold and indifferent. You can often see my mood in my handwriting, and yet in typed form, that too is lost. It falls more to the reader to decipher, and that’s where so many misinterpretations begin.

And what if, in addition to losing a bit of connection with the world around us and the other people in it, we are also losing some of our body memories? What if fingertips on keyboards and touchscreens actually retain less than a piece of paper marked by pen, pencil, or a 5-year-old boy’s crayon?

What if we are actually losing a little piece of ourselves, as well?