Thursday, 3 March 2016
I Find My Bear
I’ve been clearing out my stuff, moving things around and generally reconnecting with possessions stored, some of which I haven’t set eyes on for twenty years. In doing this, I’ve found my bear, Bill: Billy for short.
Knowing what to hang on to and what to throw away or recycle can be confusing. I’ve been discussing, for example, the problem of letters intended for one specific reader with a friend. In this case they are the letters his parents wrote to each other whilst courting – he’s wondering whether to read them to understand the two people central to his existence better: perhaps to discover a great love which he remembers worn thin by familiarity; or whether to burn them, whether to put them away for another day, or another generation.
I am ambivalent about whether to keep some of the things I’ve found. On the one hand, they remind me of aspects of my former self, some of which I’d forgotten. I was surprised that my primary school project on the Babylonians is neat, but it’s factually inadequate; I like my toy china tea set and it holds memories of the miniature tea parties that I used to create for my sons, but it could be now enjoyed by someone smaller; my wetsuit reminds me that one of my favourite things to do is to swim outside, but I like to swim where it’s warm enough not to need it.
It was easy to decide to keep Bill. He’s one year younger than me – a present from my beloved, smokin’ granny. Since his arrival, he’s followed my every move. He’s not cute, but he is robust having survived many hugs, long periods of time being completely ignored, as well as the minor surgery I carried out on him back in the 60s (with added glue) and several ill-considered haircuts. And all of this without anaesthetic.