My friend Eleanor is a garbage picker. One day, several years ago, she rooted among the trash minutes before the city truck came to grab the cans and dump the contents into the crusher. She found fourteen Kodak carousels filled with one family’s vacation slides: the Grand Canyon, Disneyland, a walking tour of Wales, an Anne & lobster fest on Prince Edward Island circa 1964. That night she invited me over to her place where, with a six-pack of Heineken, we viewed the slides.
I observed Eleanor and I watch these unfolding lives and I wasn’t sure who seemed more pathetic. Still, it was a pleasure and a privilege to live among them for that speck of time, to laugh at their giddiness and guess at their names. A few days later Eleanor learned that the house where this family had lived had recently been sold. The parents were dead and the children scattered.
And now–I blog.
They spin, they throb, they crash into my thoughts these voices of others who write for others. Bodies attached to words that rattle along at my fingertip, sometimes hauntingly so. But at other times they are most welcome, these fellow bloggers, please stay a while. I’m new to this craft and nervously tap. I reach inside to where these writers reside and call them out to play. In particular, I’m trying to find other life & death blogs, reminding myself it’s not a ghoulish endeavour that I’m on but rather the quest of a keen story-seeker.
The temptation to lock away a person’s history simply because they can no longer speak or write or wear it is something I oppose, something I think is unnecessary. We leave behind measly crumbs but still they can make a meal. Think of the boxes shoved behind you in drawers, high up on shelves, or lost in the dungeons of basements, crawl spaces, bulging with diaries, slides, letters, photographs, certificates. What would it take to bring them out and plump them up again with the flavour of your life? Only interest, it would only take interest and perhaps also respect.