A few days ago, I received a call from my parents urging me to get my butt over to their home and (finally) clear out their basement of every artifact I'd been saving since I was a teen. I now have a gigantic bag of magazines, notebooks, and photo albums sitting in one corner of my apartment and some of it could really get me in trouble one day.
With my child.
I wasn't a "bad kid" by any stretch of the imagination, but I had a few semi-wild years that I would rather my daughter not find out about. I didn't do anything too nuts. But I did enough to embarrass myself -- in print -- though, thankfully, most of my stupidity took place seconds before the Internet blew up.
Still, in my bag of shame I am currently in possession of not one but three magazines in which I somehow managed to have my photo snapped at some nightclub or another. In one mag, which was the butt of lots of jokes among friends, I'm at a foam party in London partying it up with some random guy I'd just met, half of my shirt hanging off. I know there was almost absolutely zero sexual activity going on in my life at that time, but if my daughter sees these photos, she couldn't be blamed for mistaking her mom for a cage dancer.
And then there are the notebooks and diaries. Countless pages of poetry in which I (very beautifully and accurately, I might add) rail against my mother and reveal very personal reasons why we had major issues at the time. If my daughter were to read these poems, she would discover things about her grandmother that aren't her business to know -- that she need never know, really.
Ugh, and what do I do with the short story I wrote about a girl giving a boy oral sex beneath a dark bridge, which was published in a minor publication? Or the photos from Amsterdam that prominently feature cigarettes and glasses of wine (let's hope she doesn't do the math and figure out my age at the time). Jim Morrison lyrics written over and over again in spiral-like fashion on a notebook cover.
I'm royally screwed.
So what's the responsible way to handle private artifacts once we become parents? Should we store them in a safe? Burn them and let our memories hold on to the ones that will ultimately matter most? Or is it best to be honest and not hide the evidence?
Throwing out parts of my past makes me feel like I'm losing a part of myself. I think I'll take my chances and risk incredible embarrassment if she finds my stuff. And, oh yes, she will definitely find my stuff.
What's the most embarrassing thing you have from your past? Would you care if your kids found it?
Image via MyLifeStory/Flickr