Paper Trail

We visited a new friend from our new church who lives in a very old home–three generations old, to be exact–that is filled with three generations of stuff.

Stuff like the fancy old furniture and beautiful old books. But also stuff like a lifetime collection of letters and meticulously kept journals, records of her grandfather’s life that were obviously deeply valued by their original owner but have become both a gift and a burden for his granddaughter. My friend displays enthusiasm about her finds and about their potential value, but I think I sense a bit of pause as she considers the depth and complexity of the task of unearthing that value.

This sets me to wondering what kind of paper trail, if any, I will leave behind. My grandfather has kept detailed journals all his life–from what I can tell, they are mostly about baseball statistics and family birthdays–but there must be some personal insights in their pages. My mother has kept scores of photo albums filled with family photos all labeled with names and dates so that our memories will live on. And I, well, I write a blog entry once a month and I post my status updates on facebook every few weeks and I take a few pictures a month and try to get them loaded from my camera to my computer. But I wonder if I will leave anything worthwhile behind that doesn’t need to be plugged in or turned on or logged into.

I used to journal with great zeal, but I think I might have to burn those before they make it to my grandchildren, as they are mostly about song lyrics, inexplicable crushes on strange boys, and “how much I can’t stand my mother/sister/math teacher/hair/ex-best friend” sorts of self-indulgent entries. Paul and I wrote a lot of mushy stuff back and forth during our courtship, but unfortunately (or fortunately) it is all on email. We made a valiant attempt to print it all out one time in college, but after about half a ream of paper and at least an hour in the computer lab, we started to get embarrassed about the whole project and decided to just quit. So those are lost on old email accounts to which I no longer have the password. And, frankly, I don’t even really print out my pictures anymore–at least not like I should–and so even those will be hard to access.

So this sets me to wondering what sort of a paper trail I SHOULD leave behind. Does it matter? Will my great-granddaughter consider it a treasure when she stumbles upon the Exhaustive Memoirs of Laura (Rogers) Lundgren Including Pictures With Dates? Or will she sigh to herself as she heaves open the giant trunk and roll her eyes at the tediousness of my entries?

Perhaps, when I broadcast the moments of my life instantly to everyone (and then allow my words to evaporate) it is no different than my friend’s grandfather describing his life privately but storing his words carefully to last indefinitely. We both write hoping that our words will be read by someone who cares enough to value them, but we mostly write because that moment calls for declaration. And it feels good just to say it.


4 thoughts on “Paper Trail

  1. So well said. We lost our blog last week. I spent half of Saturday crying like a baby over all those lost words. I may have even declared I had to move back to TX just to be near people who knew my memories since I no longer had any record of them. (a wee bit dramatic, I know) I used to be somewhat of a paper hoarder (seriously), and so moving to the computer was a bit of a triumph for me. Losing the blog, though, nearly caused me to relapse. Fortunately, Jeremy was much less dramatic than his emotional wife and reminded me that 7 years was only the beginning of our marriage, not the sum of it. He also reminded me that we still have Jane even if we lost her birth story; and we don’t suddenly have amnesia. But still! All our carefully crafted words!

    And then… Jeremy realized that a website that occasionally takes “screen shots” of the internet had some shots of our blog, and I think he will be able to restore about 75% of our lil’ blog. Phew.

    The moral of this story is just this: back up your blog; don’t just let it linger of a server in outerspace.

    The other lessons for me were pondering what it must feel like to really lose prized family mementos in a fire or flood. Also, I am possibly still a hoarder.

    Miss seeing your face!

    • littlehouseinthesuburb says:

      That is so sad, Annie!! That would completely devastate me, too 😦 Lucky you have such a tech-savvy husband. I’m not even sure I know HOW to back up a blog??

      Miss you (and all our LBC friends) too… it is hard to leave a place that idyllic and we hope that we’ll get to come back soon for a visit!


  2. Thanks, Laura. I’m so glad that Paul’s preaching is going well. How is teaching? And how is your sweet girl?

    Maybe I’ll get Jeremy to post a little tutorial on backing up a blog once ours is back up and running.
    Take care,

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