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A space large enough for your memories

This button from the November 15, 1969, “end the war” march in San Francisco is among the souvenirs in my college scrapbook.
This button from the November 15, 1969, “end the war” march in San Francisco is among the souvenirs in my college scrapbook.
 Editor Richard Wiens went up to Seattle to see Neil Young in concert the other night. When he told me about his plans, I said I’d seen Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young right after they’d first gotten together, in a concert with Joni Mitchell at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles in 1969.

Richard calls me a female Forrest Gump because I always manage to pull out an interesting story from my past. I admit I’ve lived in interesting places during particularly interesting times.

 

I was reminded of that yet again Sunday as Rick and I spent the day in our 10x20 storage unit. The storage unit is my most embarrassing possession. I can’t believe that I pay good money to rent space to put stuff I never seem to need or use. My only consolation is that I know tons of people who haven’t parked their cars in a garage for years. Both Rick and I use our garage for our cars, leaving us little room to store things.

We sifted through boxes for over five hours. I tried to stay focused on the chore at hand: downsizing to a newer (cheaper) 10x10. I tried not to get distracted by the memories uncovered in every box, especially the photographs: my newborn twins, my mom at sweet 16, various versions of a younger me, weddings with beautiful brides and grooms now divorced.

At the end of the afternoon we accomplished our goal and had a pile for the dump, bags to take to Julindra for shredding and a dozen or more cardboard boxes broken down in a heap.

Tucked safely under my arm as we locked up the new unit was my old green scrapbook.

I kept this scrapbook of photos, ticket stubs, newspaper clippings and notes during my first two years of college. The first page holds the typed letter of acceptance to the University of San Francisco. On the last page I taped a phone message from my then-boyfriend dated May 16, 1970. In between is the chronology of my life and times in San Francisco for two school years.

Forty-three years ago, the scrapbook reminds me, I hitchhiked to Half Moon Bay to admire the pumpkin fields, won $20 for first place in a college poetry contest, saw Country Joe and the Fish at the Fillmore, went on a date to see Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and sipped my first cappuccino afterward at Ghirardelli Square, and on November 12, introduced then Speaker of the California Assembly Jesse M. Unruh to a group of students to hear about his groundbreaking stand on civil rights.

I considered Mr. Unruh a soul mate because we had both been at the Ambassador Hotel that fateful night in June, 1968, and it was Unruh who helped hold down Sirhan Sirhan after he shot presidential candidate Robert Kennedy. In 1970 Unruh ran unsuccessfully for governor against Ronald Reagan.

Midway through November there’s a button clipped on the page. The button commemorates an anti-war march that ended with a rally in Golden Gate Park, not far from where I lived. I don’t know how many thousands marched that day but when I went to the grocery store that afternoon I was shocked to discover there was no food left to buy. All the eat-on-demand food was gone – the fruits, the deli meats and cheeses, the bread, the sweets – because the marchers, like hungry locusts, had swept through.

As disgusted as I am with the monthly storage fee and the stigma of having more possessions than I can fit in my home, I am not ready to give up the photos, momentos, souvenirs and the scrapbook. I know how the book got its name – scraps and pieces of a life glued and taped together to keep memories alive.

Visiting them occasionally is like time travel. I remember how the wind blew and how free I felt in the back of that pick up truck headed to Half Moon Bay, how politically charged I was after Jesse Unruh’s speech, and how rich and delicious my first cappuccino tasted that moonlit night at Ghirardelli Square.

 


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