The Nostalgia Project
When my mother and stepfather downsized
from the house I grew up in to something
befitting retirees, there was almost forty years
of stuff shoved in basements and closets, despite
diligent garage sales and trips to Goodwill.
A heap of old photo albums came to me,
lone survivor of so many deaths, divorces,
and remarriages, a final loop of wool
in an otherwise unraveled garment.
One album went back to the 1920s,
with edge tabs and black pages,
falling apart, lost photos leaving behind
ghostly windows, all the faces unknown to me.
Others were from the 70s and early 80s,
sticky, yellowing leaves that have lost
their adhesiveness, whose cellophane sleeves
have grown loose and crinkled.
Some of the photos themselves are faded or scratched.
I dutifully begin scanning them so they can be
easily shared with distant relatives, to see if anyone’s
memories reach back that far, files labeled
and sorted to the best of my knowledge. I will
transfer the photos themselves to new albums
to try to preserve the original snapshots and Polaroids.
Twenty albums take me months to get through.
At the same time, I think, mere months
to preserve the artifacts of at least five generations?
That something that’s supposed to be so permanent
and historic can be so easily undone?