We carry our past lives with us, through memories, through music, through scars and food and photographs and the objects we can’t quite part with for some inexplicable reason. Some of us even carry our past lives in our wallets.
Our clunky black wallets with too much change and too many balled-up receipts.
Go ahead and open mine up. Never mind the three library cards, the credit cards, the expired gift card to Subway. If you look in the tight plastic-sheathed picture pocket—right there behind my driver’s license—you’ll find a personal identification card, standing tall and proud and vertically aligned.
Expiration Date: 2012 : the year I graduated from high school : recovered from my second ACL knee surgery : kissed my love for the first time : packed up my books and clothes to start down the college road : the year the world was supposed to end but didn’t.
Address: The pale yellow house born in 1925 which I lived in for 19 years of my life. We sold it a year after the card expired and I haven’t driven past it since. It’s no longer mine. This home.
Weight: The weight of a teenager, which I am no more.
Background: Michigan in large, blue, block letters. The Mackinac Bridge (Mighty Mac) streaking across the top. A state engrained in my bones and will be wherever in the world I go.
Signature: Do I still carve my r’s like that? I’ve become lazier these days, no longer taking the care to write Finch. Instead a scrawled, scrunched something or rather like Fil is sufficient enough.
Photograph: First there is the hair, which I have cut and shaved and grown and regrown and shaped and trimmed and now have 1/4 of what appears on this ID. Then, there are the cheeks with apples beneath the surface, the tanned skin of summer, the cheesy “when is this picture going to be taken” smile that only is worn at the Secretary of State. There are the clothes: the red sweater, the leopard scarf. I wore them together again yesterday and I felt as if revisiting an old friend.
The other day as I reached into my wallet for my license, this other self peered through the plastic at me. My boyfriend caught a glimpse of it and asked, “Why do you still carry that thing around?”
Because it’s me. Or it was me. Or it’s all somehow still inside me, swimming around in the fleshy, messy pool of living and forgetting. And I guess I’d rather not partake in the forgetting.
(This post was inspired by an assignment where we were told to bring in one object about which we have more than one feeling preferably (complicated, or conflicted); something that we have not been able to part with. Guess what I brought in?)