bookishness · craftiness · remembering / musing

In the frame – a stranger’s memories

Being fifty-something doesn’t mean I get it right every time.

Quite the opposite. And because I’m wiser (with age, of course) I’m more aware when I get it wrong. Always after the fact.

Obviously, I should have asked for help (or joined a support group) on this one earlier.

Much earlier.

Here’s how it unfolded.

A couple of weeks back, I unearthed this huge vintage atlas at the local book fair. By huge, I mean the pages are almost A3 size and have those gorgeous muted colours typical of atlases printed in the 1960s. Love at first sight.

For just $2 I snavelled it up, dreaming of flawlessly executing all sorts of crafts, many inspired by this post I shared a while back.

I lugged the big, bound beauty home (I’d been schlepping around the neighbourhood without the car) and settled in with a cup of tea to explore the pages. (Is it just me who spends hours exploring atlas pages?)

Inside I found a secret. Between pages 52 and 53 was a clutch of flowers and foliage carefully placed between tissue paper.

They’d been there for some time, pressed flat and dry and fragile and precious.

I wondered what made them special. Perhaps they were a travel keepsake or a memento of a special day or a special place.

I wondered who had placed them in this big, bound beauty and why they hadn’t retrieved them.

I couldn’t stop thinking about them.

Yes. I had been ambushed by a stranger’s memories. (I am a serial ambushee, it seems).

Any clear thinking person would have returned the flowers to the secret spot between Pages 52 and 53. Where they belonged.

Not me. I felt an urge to preserve the stranger’s memories.

I grabbed a frame from my box of second-hand frames. (Why the surprise face? Doesn’t everyone have a box of second-hand frames?)

I schlapped on a couple of coats of white paint and some white wax then arranged within the frame the stranger’s flowers, over a piece of the original tissue over a guillotined page of the atlas.

Feeling chuffed, I stood back to admire my work.

Now wasn’t that a Whiskey Tango Foxtrot(!) moment?

I was struck by two things:

1. I had shown more care and respect to a stranger’s memories than I ever do to my own (mine are unashamedly unsorted, unloved and left to their own devices to ambush me unawares).

2. I was teetering on the edge of the abyss of something terrifying … scrapbooking.

If any of you has anything to offer up to explain/resolve Number 1, I’d love to hear from you. Particularly if you have a psychological bent … surely there is a syndrome that covers this. (Memorünchausen Syndrome by Proxy springs to mind.)

As for Number 2, please grab me and pull me back from the abyss (fast and firm).

Recognising that I’ve betrayed my own memories in favour of those of a stranger is frightening in itself, but not nearly as daunting (or irreversible) as becoming a scrapbooker.







5 thoughts on “In the frame – a stranger’s memories

  1. I love this post in so many ways–especially this: I had shown more care and respect to a stranger’s memories than I ever do to my own (mine are unashamedly unsorted, unloved and left to their own devices to ambush me unawares).

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