The western wall of my attic
room back in my parents' house (back in high school
) was covered with Important Objects
I had retained from my interactions with girls. (I share this just in case the delusion persists that teenaged girls are the only ones who surround themselves with artifacts of their obsession.)
On the wall were class pictures with cutesey personalized messages (you know the kind: "H.A.G.S and F.A.G.S", "Grade 10 was great!" - that sorta stuff) from many, big fake smiles beaming piercingly. (No reference intended, Jessica.)
Creative endeavour guaranteed placement - calligraphic renditions of my name from well-liked birthday wishers' wishes, handwritten postcards, letters and notes stuck in the wall well, but it was in the quasi-unique objects where the best tales of incidental obsession lay coiled, ready to strike out viciously at any innocent inquirer.
One girl once mentionned idly that she had a strange desire to tape up my hands. I demanded she follow through on the impulse and a piece of tape (with a good chunk of my fingerprints) remained on the wall to commemmorate the moment, next to a ribbon I once had braided into my hair, a teabag, a note from my locker asking if I could stop at her house after school, the wilted, years-old remains of a cherry blossom that was a birthday present, an origami slug.
Oh yes - lest I fail to revulse with the crassness of my sentimentality just yet - three clumps of hair, each recovered from using-my-hairbrush by the Rainbow-haired demon of death upon the occasions of three separate colourations of hair.
This eventually occupied a fair chunk of space, covering a time range of adolescence but peaking from age fourteen to seventeen. Fully half of the wall was covered, but would I settle for that? White space could only be symbolic, so matching up with what had been rendered unto me, I matched it with every (written) thing I had myself produced upon the subject of love - sonnet cycles, creative writing exercises, collaborative poems, invitations to relationships and eulogies thereof. At long last the wall filled and spilled, mild overlap around triangular corners (my room, not merely upstairs but attic being roughly the shape of a triangle) and the head of my bed abutted a vast field of painful memories, remembered possibilities and impossible pains, the first sight upon awakening and the last when going to sleep, preventing me from pondering things more weighty than how vacant the space next to me on the bed felt.
I never asked myself why I did it - I only knew that I had to hold on to something, and didn't want to admit to myself that the things I really wanted to hold on to were already out of reach. The motley assortment of objects reminded me of situations where I might have said something else, ways I might have reciprocated, and I could endlessly fantasize the endless and lurid choose-your-own-adventure paths I could well be navigating if I would only allow myself a bit of backtracking. More to the point, many of the objects informed me in no small terms that I had been there - lest I jettison all memories as unreal experience, decide my emotions had clouded my perception (because we know our senses can lie to us) and think maybe I imagined it, but you can't take things back into the waking world from dreams, not even things as trivial as handfuls of hair. Once I was close enough to someone to have access to not one but three such handfuls - and there was (disgusting) proof!
The poems reminded me, of course, of such in considerably less-small terms, not merely of the circumstances of juxtaposition of time and space but of the headspace I floated in - proof not only that I'd been there but of what intoxicating effects it had had on me. I had been optimistic! Hard to believe, I know, but the (trite, clichéd, forced rhyming but sincere) words were up there, plain as an understimulated youth. I actually celebrated the flipside of Singles' Awareness Day! I did my darnedest to emulate Shakespeare (minus all the heir-begetting, of course) and by the end of it I could crank out sonnets like no one's (well, maybe Petrarch's) business. Sherri-D Wilson has been heard to assert that every relationship is good for two poems - one at the beginning and one at the end - but I would not hear that quote for years to come and wouldn't have had the slightest intent of allowing it to bottlecap my coping mechanism if the words had got inside my head.
Looking at the two major fields of the wall, perhaps placing myself up between them, you could almost visualize me as a bad-love-poetry machine, converting a) (flotsam) into b) (Hallmark).
Late in my occupancy of the room, having done the gentlemanly thing and surrendered the bed to the staying-overnight friends who were at that time enmeshed in coupledom, one of them noted: my goodness, there's probably some awfully personal stuff up there. I probably shouldn't read it. Having grown up on BBS forums the notions of personal and private were practically contradictory to me but I suspect others to whom I granted the space remained discrete in their getting-in-my-head activities (as opposed to the getting-into-their-pants ones...)
I like to believe that this archivist's approach to life was inspired by my readings on the (regrettably name-slipping) German Dadaist who plastered personal momentoes of people important to him in nooks of a shrine which grew as the need for nooks similarly did, eventually filling the room and requiring the purchasing of the upstairs apartment that the floor between the two could be knocked out and the shrine could rise further, that I emulated this myopic approach to keepsakes unaware that the only important parts of love are the ones you can't pin on your wall like butterflies on a cotton-backed collection board. This clinical approach to love is no good.
I am glad to know that my parents blindly cleaned and packed it all away, turning a blind eye to the specifics of what they tore down, after I moved out and rented out the room. I would feel bad inflicting the massive of my age-sixteen angst on innocent foreign exchange students in such overwhelming quantities, though why I would feel bad (ashamed of the collectorly qualities? ashamed of the particulars of what was collected? ashamed at violating the privacy of the original donors, in most cases undoubtedly unaware of the prominent display they had contributed to? ashamed at my greeting-card words or at having to actually admit to having experienced the emotions which inspired them?) remains unclear at best.
There is nothing similar in my present room. The crushes since moving in a year-and-a-half-ago can be counted on one of Django Reinhardt's hands, and of that less-than-handful none of them have as yet resulted in any tangible artifacts. Either I am growing up or I am growing down. Today I am known to harbour a quite different obsession, in that the closest I get to my onetime gallery is the small gallery of postcards from everythingites along the ceiling's trim.
Fear not. I won't write of you in such breathless terms in five years' time.