Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Address Book: A Story in Itself

It's that time of year again, just after Christmas and right before the year ends (or begins, depending on your perspective). One look at my natty old address book is proof of the years gone by and the changes that have happened during that time.

I pulled out my book of addresses when I prepared to get my Christmas cards out in time (I barely made it). The second I opened the cover, I understood again why I procrastinate doing this task. People come in and out of our lives, and it's all scribbled down right there in our address book. Different colored pens, pencil, tape, white outs, black outs, highlights... At least that's what mine is like. I should throw out the damn thing and start over.

But I can't throw it away. There's too much history within its pages.

I see a child's scrawl of a classmate's name and phone number from years ago. The past becomes the present for only a minute, but long enough to relive a brief passage of time. It triggers a memory and I get nostalgic as my eyes scan to the next entry.

It's incredible the number of times I've scratched out an address and phone number, then added the changed one. That one is scratched out, then the next and the next, revealing every move and change in that person's life. People leave, get divorced, remarried, and die. The address book is like a history book, a memory book, a scrap book.

Mine is also filled with the ripped off corners of envelopes that have the return address. It's a reminder for me to make the change inside the book, and sometimes I do, and sometimes I forget until I'm addressing Christmas cards a year later.

The one entry I can't bare to touch is the one for my mom. She moved a lot during the last ten years of her life, and the final move is still in its pristine and unscribbled spot on her page in my address book. It reminds me of all our phone calls, letters, and shared birthday and Christmas cards. And it reminds me how much I miss her, especially during the holidays.

Do you keep an address book? Do you replace it regularly or does it become ratty like mine? Maybe you've gone totally digital and keep it with your email software. I have a few of those, too, but it's less intimate. More business.

I wish you all the best in the upcoming New Year!


Sisters of the Quill said...

My family members are the Albright page has bled onto two other letters, I learned to use pencil since the ink always got crossed out. The older generations seem to be the most stable, except those who've moved to assisted living locations. I also run out of time to put in the new addresses and so have the book stuffed with envelop pieces with addresses and jotted down addresses...Christmas is fun....hundreds - it seems - of people to send cards too. Many I'm now sending via email. Poor post office. No wonder they are working at a loss. Fun Topic Karen

best in 2013, Karen Lin

Karen Duvall said...

Aha, so you get it, Karen. :) I tried the pencil thing for a while, then found it smudged when I tried to erase and the mess would get worse when I wrote over it. So scribbles, tape and white-out has taken the correction lead.

Diana Mcc. said...

Hey, Karen! It's 12/26/12 and we're all still here!!! My address book is like yours, a lot of cross offs, white outs and re writes. I haven't gone so far to stick address labels off letters into it yet. My one thing I can't change, is my cell phone label that reads "mom & dad". Dad has been gone for eight years, but I just can't take his name off. Happy Holidays! See you next year! LOL!

Karen Duvall said...

Yes, Diana, we are still here! Yay! :) I heard someone say that we may all find ourselves on a future episode of Lost. I thought that was pretty funny.

I know that losing a parent is tough. We want to remember them every way we can even if it's through the address book.

Melia Alexander said...

Hi Karen! Mine's a rolodex style - haven't gone through it in years. Not since I moved the addresses onto the computer. Now I'm wondering why it's still around. Must fix that!

Happy New Year!

Karen Duvall said...

Melia, I have a rolodex, too. It's a bit dusty, and has a lot of old business contacts in it. It's another one that's hard to throw away, but that's because I like turning the knob and making all the cards flip. Ha! I've recently started using it to store passwords.

Anonymous said...

Love this topic, Karen. Up until about five years ago, I had an address book very similar to yours. It would be replaced about every 3-4 years. However, as the oldest of nine children it was impossible to keep up and I finally gave up.

I hear you about it representing so much of our lives, but for efficiency I decided to keep a master Xmas list and each year as I receive news about moves, I update that list in my computer. It is the one and only updated list. Of course, I also keep things in my cell phone directory but that is not as comprehensive.

Now what represents our lives tends to be captured in pictures, on Facebook, and in emails. Now, if I only had an efficient way of organizing the over 1,000 emails I've saved in the last five years because they tell a story.

Karen Duvall said...

I hear you about the emails, Maggie. I also have tons I've saved. I sometimes worry about digital stuff going poof in a crash, so I probably have less digital than tangible. Or maybe not... hm...