#206: The Scrapbook

What do we miss when we take time to record our experiences?

This weekend is Katie’s hen do, a once-in-a-lifetime event (hopefully!), and so something you would want to remember. For this reason, I decided we needed a scrapbook.

As I write, this scrapbook is relatively empty. It’s pages are filled only with prompts as to what might appear there. There’s a page titled ‘Funniest Quotes’ and space for all the bridesmaids to draw themselves upon arrival. As this blog post is published, however, I hope these pages are gloriously filled in the way only a scrapbook can be filled, bursting with this, that, and everything else.

I have completed several scrapbooks over the years. It started first with a postcard collection, but then I found I wanted to remember more about a trip than an impersonal piece of card would allow. I began sticking these postcards into books, creating elaborate layouts with jotted memories and a whole load of gluing and sticking. These bursting books are great for remembering all the trips I took as a teenager, all the weekend drives to tourist attractions. Unlike my diary, these scrapbooks are objects I would happily show to anyone, but they still, I hope, manage to capture a more personal essence of what happened on those days.

Scrapbooks, like Instagram stories, tend to capture the happy moments in our lives. The days we want to actively try and remember. They’re about big things, not little occurrences. The moments we want to display in the most attractive physical form possible.

When I arrived at University, I fully intended to scrapbook the whole experience. I had endless items ready to become scrapbook fodder. Event wristbands, photobooth pictures, theatre tickets, meal cards, concert programmes etc. etc. It was a scrapbooker’s dream, but ironically that dream was also a bit of a nightmare.

Because the more objects you have available for your scrapbook, the busier you are likely to be, creating the experiences that allow you to collect so many objects. Eventually you cannot glue and stick fast enough to keep up with the pace of your life. At moments like this you have to accept that there will be no displayable scrapbook, no physical object reminding you of those experiences. You simply have to live them and hope your brain can do the remembering for you.

I wonder, sometimes, why I am so eager to record every experience. Why I have endless diaries and scrapbooks and notes on my phone explaining so many moments of my life. I wonder if I don’t live in the moment enough. I wonder if I should trust my brain a little more, rather than relying on objects to tell me the story of my life. And yet, nothing really beats the immediacy and intimacy of a moment recorded soon after it took place.

There will be no biopic or biography of my life, but at least I will always have these objects to look back on and remember the weekends I might so easily have forgotten.

Eleanor is a writer using her skills in overthinking to write a weekly blog post about everyday objects. To read more, check out her blog Object, a collaboration with fellow Medium blogger Katie.