Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Missing Pieces (Week 40 of Fireflies at Dusk: A 52-Week Project)

There were many situations in my life that meant I had to leave things behind. One of those was in college when I was renting a cheap space in a century-old building and the ceiling collapsed.  There was a huge mess and almost nothing was salvageable.  Being a poor college student, I could barely afford dinner, let alone renter's insurance, so I lost most of what I owned including many mementos from my life.  It did make it easier to move though, since I could fit all my possessions in my car.  Being a Gen Xer means having at least one, if not several stories like this - leaving things behind, traveling to a new destination and starting again.

Many Gen Xers remember having to leave behind toys, books, or other mementos from their childhood that were close to their heart - often times before they were ready to.  Gen Xers are a Nomadic Generation.*  All that moving around has required that you leave things behind.  While leaving your toys behind in some cardboard box meant you would never see them again in your younger years, all you have to do these days is go online, find it, and have it shipped to your doorstep.  I hold things loosely, and I realize it isn't so much about that remnant from my past as it is about the feeling I get from being around it.   Having to constantly let go of things teaches you, even if just for practical reasons, to be unattached to material things, but sometimes it's nice to get something back.

The first book I remember the teacher reading to us in kindergarten. I recently bought this
used online to read to my tot, so now it is a piece of her childhood, too.  Corduroy the bear goes
looking for his missing button in the story just as many of us go looking for the missing pieces of our lives.  

I'm a person who is big on the concept of redemption.  If you want to bring back something into your life that you had to leave behind, one thing that can be redeeming is to buy it used. Other than saving money, I like feeling like I can own something that someone else in my generation once owned, that I was not alone in what I experienced when it was part of my life, and that so many others were going through the exact same thing at the exact same time.

Time closes behind us with every passing minute, we cannot relive the exact same moments that we once had - in fact, many things we would never want to relive.  While it seemed like parts of your childhood had to be left behind, there is a way to get it back.  It can be about making homemade play dough to inhale the smell and bring back a flood of memories, it can be about eating that comfort food that warmed you up when the weather was cold.  It can be about buying something you once enjoyed that is second-hand and enjoying it even more because someone else in your same generation owned it once too.  That is what the Fireflies at Dusk project is get the good parts back of my Gen X childhood so that I can help others do the same.

We were, and are, all in this together.


*William Stauss and Neil Howe, the creators of Generational Theory, have identified generational archetypes that have cycled through history, and have written about how Generation X falls into the Nomadic personality type.  Part of this personality type includes a sort of unsettled, roaming existence.  Rare Gen Xers who lived in the same place through their growing-up years experienced this at least existentially, and most Gen Xers experienced this in the constant change of their geographic location as well.


Copyright for Cordoroy: Published by Penguin Group, written by Don Freeman, 1968/Writing and Photography by Chloe Koffas- all rights reserved

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