When Mom and Dad show up for a visit, cleaning and organizing is almost always part of the experience. I’ll try to help out their domesticating prowess by going through a box or two that I haven’t yet because well, the task usually seems daunting. So I found a box and started digging.
The box I chose was full of binders. Not empty binders from school, waiting to be filled and reused. Full binders of various types. There was one with drum music in it, both bought and handwritten. I have not attempted the drums since I was in Los Angeles, about eight years. I keep it because I want to get a full trap set one of these days and I did inherit an electronic drumset last summer. Have I set it up yet? Of course not.
There were two binders that probably gave me the biggest smile. One was an incomplete collaborative story that my friend from college, Liz Ranfeld, and I worked on. This was in the days pre-Google Docs and we always lived far away from each other, so we’d send letters/handwritten stories (often by photocopy as well) to each other. I kept everything in that binder. It was a world created by characters we loved from film, television and books. A safe haven for the lost characters we loved. I still have it because one, both of us have grown as writers and two, I loved the idea of it.
The other binder is also a collaborative project that I had with Liz.
I’m not sure if you can tell, but that’s easily a 3-inch binder (do they even make them larger?) and it’s stuffed full. The amazing thing is that that is not all of the project. I lost some of it into internet oblivion and there’s tons that’s unrecorded. It could have probably fit two of those.
What is it? It was a game that Liz and I played, started merely in verbal form where we would discuss things that were entirely untrue and pretend to have a life that was far more fabulous that any person can imagine. Her alter ego (same first name, different surname) was a writer (still is) and I was an artist (don’t ask, it was completely unfounded) and we had these incredible lives that interacted with great people and we did these great things.
It started as a conversation thing. We’d walk around campus and on the spot, create these stories. A weird improv type game. Then, when we went to our homes for the summer, we created email accounts (complete with our alter egos names) and emailed each other the amazing experiences we were having. After I graduated, we’d email/mail each other and it must have gone on for a good two/three years. We finally ended it when Liz got married.
And that’s it. All those stories, both exciting and heartbreaking, printed and copied inside that binder. The email accounts deactivated after not being used for a certain amount of time and I lost a fair portion of Liz’s emails, so there’s places where it’s my email responding to her story.
It’s incredible that we did that. Created all these occurrences in lives that weren’t ours and will never be ours (I’m certainly never going to be an artist/production designer). She has an MFA in creative nonfiction now and an adorable little girl. I have my masters in writing for young people and will be published this summer. We are still friends, but so much has changed.
What’s in that binder is funny, embarrassing, and nostalgic.
It’s huge and takes up space in a closet already filled with notebooks/journals and binders, but I’m not getting rid of it. It’s just part of my writing journey and I treasure it.
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