What's This Stuff Hanging on My Wall?
When you're moving out of a -cluttery room where you've spent a coon's age, you can't linger over every memento. If you do, you'll never get packed.
Just unceremoniously throw it all into boxes, I say, and clear out. You can always paw through it later.
That's the approach I tried to take this past weekend. My wife, Brenda, and I made headway toward vacating my office here at The Pilot for the new editor, who's coming next week. Even when one is not moving away - just transferring to another office 75 feet away for a new part-time role - it would still be all too easy to bog down in sentimentality. So just keep shoveling.
It worked OK for the stuff in desk drawers and the bookcase and most of the framed things on the walls. Only when I got to the back wall, above my computer table, did things start to break down.
It wasn't the certificates and pictures hanging there that I got hung up on. It was the tangle of press passes, meeting paraphernalia and a -mishmash of other souvenirs with which I had randomly festooned those frames. Over the years, when I returned from an event with some kind of badge hanging from my neck or clipped to my lapel, I would remove it and find a place to park it on that wall. Or I might just find a way to jam a snapshot or program in there somewhere.
Maybe 30 items, mostly long forgotten, had accumulated there on that wall in a colorful, chaotic mess. As Brenda began separating them out and dropping them into a box, how could I avoid stopping to reminisce over at least a few?
Wow. Here are a reporter badge and a photographer badge from the 1999 U.S. Open in Pinehurst. Those must be worth something on eBay. What a big deal it was for a newcomer and amateur like me to end up coordinating the coverage of that epic event. If I do say so, we did a terrific job. Can't believe we took all those pictures on 35mm film from now-bankrupt Kodak, which we then had to take to the now-demolished Kmart for processing.
There was a huge, gold-embossed "Working Media" badge from the 2001 U.S. Women's Open in Pine Needles and a maroon "Pre-Championship One-Day Gate Pass" to the 2005 Open, not to mention an elegant, sky-blue "Working Media" pass to the 2007 Women's Open. What wonderful, stressful experiences and wee-hour deadlines they all represent. Oh, well. Into the box they go.
OMG! Here's a red-and-white press pass to "John Edwards Presidential Announcement, Robbins, N.C., Sept. 16, 2003." Who could ever forget that gathering, held in front of the closed mill building (since burned down) in which both Edwards and his father, Wallace, once worked? Beaming out from the badge is a photo of a handsome young John decked out in his 1970 North Moore High School football uniform. Such an innocent-looking, all-American boy. What happened?
There are "Instructor" badges from three years of the N.C. Press Association's Newspaper Academy and a presenter badge from a National Newspaper Association convention in Mobile, Ala., along with name tags from a Moore County Chamber of Commerce retreat and another from the Arts Council of Moore County.
Next to come off the wall were various Rotary and Emmanuel Episcopal Church and Palustris Festival memorabilia, then a surprisingly plain-looking badge from Screenwriting Expo 3 in Hollywood and a green one from last year's bookseller's convention in Charleston. There's a U.S. Capitol pass, issued by Rep. Howard Coble's office. Fond memories, all.
Some of the items document pivotal changes in the lives of others. The most recently acquired addition to the collection is a program from a Service of Remembrance held Oct. 11, 2011, at The Village Chapel in Pinehurst for Allan Jefferys - who, before retiring here in 1987 and becoming a weekly Pilot columnist, piloted a C47 during World War II and went on to a -distinguished career as a TV personality and theater critic in New York. Quite a guy.
I had to pause over a program from "the marriage of Donna Wilson Adams and Jacob Watts Bouser" on May 1, 2010 - and over a snapshot of Jake and daughter Kate from the weekend last spring when both got master's degrees, with my other son, Ben, standing by. What a proud day!
The last thing to come down was a slender remembrance printed in pink and blue and testifying to the marriage of The Pilot's Mechelle Wood to Eric Butler on Nov. 6, 2010. "Our lifetime together lies ahead," it reads. "Hand in hand we're on our way."
My advice: Make the most of every minute. Before you know it, the future has a way of becoming a jumble of fading keepsakes hanging on your wall.
Contact Steve Bouser at (910) 693-2470 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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