I can’t remember the first time I encountered the phrase “Throwback Thursday” – it has become synonymous with social media, generally accepted by individuals and companies alike. I’ve seen major corporations post photos and videos from their early advertising days, celebrities offering photos of their most awkward non-celebrity days, and close friends boldly leaving images online, harkening back to the braces and pimply faces days.
I love Throwback Thursdays. I wish I could step back in time and tell those around me, “C’mon..!! Get that 110 camera out and snap some pictures! In another 30 years, you’ll be glad you did!”
Sadly, there are large chunks of my life that are devoid of any photos. I guess as long as I have a somewhat sound mind, I don’t need photos…but it still makes me sad. To my knowledge there are no images of me with my friends or family from at least ages seven to thirteen. There are other blank years as well, and while I can recall many memories from those years, it hurts now to know that I will never be able to show my little ones what I looked like when I recount my youthful shenanigans.
Even worse, in my heart of hearts, are the stacks of writing from my youth, forever gone and forgotten by most. Dear Readers, if you have ever been broken-hearted, or elated, or feared for your life, take those feelings and magnify them by a hundred thousand, and then hand your 11-year old self a pen and paper and watch what happens.
I wrote with such wild abandon! Each time I think of those notebooks held so dearly by my 11-year old self, I ache with curiosity, wanting so badly to peek into those stories – one which even contained a passage (written in first person) of the character “downing my scotch and slamming the glass on the bar.”
To this day I have never tried scotch.
When I fall through those years, I remember the pages and pages of (admittedly) beautiful penmanship, written as an assignment …but written with fevered love of the Almighty Story.
They’re all gone.
My first fan-fiction was in the eighth grade, written with a Nightmare on Elm Street flavor, and why not? Freddy was the shit, scary was cool, and I was already morphing into the strange creature I now embrace under my actual name as well as my Ann Thraxx identity. Before that semester ended, I had written thousands and thousands of words, bundled tidily into stories and poetry. I had also carved Freddy Krueger into my forearm with a razor blade, but that’s another story.
The name scar on my arm is long gone. So is all that writing.
In college, I met an amazing English professor. She informed us on our first day of class that she was dealing with a lot of shit, and who knew what kind of journey she would take us on with the emotional turmoil jerking her from one extreme to another?
How wonderful to feel, and to hurt, and to love, and to abhor. I hope, should she ever read this, she understands me when I say how grateful I am for the shit she was dealing with. My writing flourished, my thinking expanded, and I adored her. She didn’t hold back. She pushed me. She demanded.
I still have a lot of the poetry I wrote back then. Desolation is one of those assignments, and you can see it here on my site. We were told, “Read Poe. Read more Poe. Now…write something Poe would read.”
I’m paraphrasing, of course. It was more comprehensive than that. Either way, I’m still proud of that piece. I remember staying up all hours of the night, speaking Poe’s words aloud, trying to get the pace and the rhythm into my head as I typed out my own words. Maybe I succeeded. When I completed the assignment I was asked to read it in front of a large group of professors and students and I think I forgot to be nervous after the first few lines, because the poem is essentially the tale of me killing someone. Why be nervous when you’ve already murdered someone in your writing?
My Throwback Thursday “photo” is a snapshot I took of one of the poems I wrote in college. I can tell you now that I have never attended a rave…but I always wanted to. Scoff if you like, but I always wanted to feel that experience in my chest, to smell the smoke and sweat and fading perfume.
As 40 creeps up behind me with a top hat, a slice of cheesecake, and an air horn, I can pretty much determine that I won’t ever attend a rave. But in my twenties, I imagined it to be quite an experience…
Remember, Reader, you have the ability now more than ever to document your life, if you choose. If there are photos, gather them. The good ones, the bad ones, the embarrassing ones – keep them all. They are a part of you. I believe that you are the sum total of your experiences. Someone is interested in your life. YOU might be interested in those things…later.
Hang on to your writing. Edit to your heart’s desire, but hang on to it! Hang on to that shitty story you wrote in high school, that mooney-eyed love poem you wrote for some prissy bitch that didn’t look at you twice, keep hold of those fragmented paragraphs you have no idea how to handle. Date everything, and maybe you’ll thank me for it.
I wish someone had given me that advice. I would search them down today and kiss them on the mouth.
Anyway, here: have a gander at the former me, writing about an experience I never had.