Photos and the physical, nostalgia, and the why

I’m getting ready to move.

Hmm, that sounded more philosophical / metaphysical than I may have intended.

I’m getting ready to move bodies to a new apartment.  Not exactly sure when or where, but already I’m inventory’ing my things, realizing just how little I own (no furniture aside from a bed, dresser, desk, and some bookshelves) and yet how much crap I’ve accumulated, including both boxes of amorphous stuff and things that, well, should be valuable to me.

A plethora of photo albums.  Yearbooks.  And yet more boxes filled with an assemblage of handwritten letters, high school newspapers and term papers, and the like.

These take up space, the physical, to be frank, more than the mental or emotional.  I don’t really think about the distant past all that much, for better or worse.  Don’t really have close friends from high school (my fault more than theirs), and — as a card-carrying geek then as now– let me just bluntly admit that school days were not necessarily my best of days.

I’ve already scanned thousands of my old photos, probably close to 100% of them in fact, with the very awesome ScanCafe service.  But these new digital files supplement, rather than replace the physical incarnations.

Or do they?  I was just realizing that — except for doublechecking that all my pics got appropriately scanned — I haven’t spent more than a handful of minutes over the last years perusing my hardcopy photos.  Have you?  And how about those high school yearbooks?  Ten years after high school, have you given them more than a passing glance?

And whether you answer yes or no… I think a more interesting question is why.  If you still lasciviously / lovingly / longingly linger over your old photos and yearbooks, why?  If not, why not?… and would you actually consider junking them? (or perhaps you already have?)

Very curious to hear your thoughts… 🙂


  1. Mine are sitting in a storage space in SF. Too bad, too, because a news organization was offering me $$ for a picture of a famous tech entrepreneur I went to high school with.

    Similarly, high school was a tough time for me, too. It’s just odd to see so many people from high school friend me on Facebook… I now have many more friends from high school on FB than I did in high school.

    I don’t think I’ve cracked them in many, many years. Yet, I’ve moved them around the country several times.

    I wonder if kids these days have the option of getting year books as PDFs. I’d much prefer that.

  2. Yearbooks as PDFs. That’s intriguing. But I remember that one of my favorite parts of yearbooks was the signing. No matter that the “cost” of writing something gushy sweet in another’s yearbook was practically zero (and thus not very meaningful), still — despite the intellectual reality — it was a nice ego boost :).

    Unless everyone has a tablet PC, I dunno how you could write on a PDF 😉

  3. Oh wait, I just argued and bolstered your point. Nevermind, carry on 🙂

    No, wait again! Now I realize what I was trying to say. It may be “more effort” for the requestee, but there’s also social pressure for them to accept a request. Whew.

  4. Heh, yeah, yeah, but playing devil’s advocate… it’s also not free to request a signature (e.g., you have to get up the guts to ask someone to sign your yearbook), so there is pressure on both sides, vs. a “friction-free” generic birthday greeting on facebook 🙂

  5. I have my old yearbooks in a closet. I can’t say that I’ve looked at them too often. The last time probably was a few years ago when I learned, unbeknownst to me at the time, that I actually went to high school with actor Benjamin Bratt!! ‘Course, I didn’t know him then. What a tragedy, huh?
    Why do I keep my yearbooks? Probably because I think if I throw it out, I’ll regret it someday. And heck, it doesn’t take up ALL that much space. 😉

  6. i have some boxes full of memories too, sometimes i have to move them from a place to another, with no apparent meaning since i do not use anymore those old keyboards, old videogames, small things in the desk closet, pieces of paper with some notes, past concerts tickets, old guitar tabs, postcards (yes! we used to write and send postcards in a distant past). I understood that those memories are no longer important for me, they are important for the people who wants to know me. Why someone should care about us? that’s another question 🙂

  7. yes, after each “move” i try to drop something, in order to keep just few and fewer stuff. Sometimes i feel like i have no past without those useless things. Sometimes they just bring some memories up. If I were a religious guy i would try to detatch from those things and try to move on. So my line is usually “brings some memories, brings nothing”. Public Vs. private stuff is great dividing line but for me is not working since i do not have much “public” stuff.

What do you think?

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