Cardboard time capsules prop up books on shelves lining my sitting room walls. My life preserved in boxes, overstuffed with lists—some are vertically-scrawled on torn scraps of paper with names of boys I have kissed and global cities I once upon a time hoped to visit; other lists boast of a more mature woman, meticulously itemising future drygoods purchases, my employment history and a balancing of household bills.
For all negativity propelled at the dysfunction of hoarding, I consider these boxes of perceived clutter to be my treasure of gold.
A reflective list–
- Scientific: Educators uphold that each human possesses a natural preference for how they best learn. Does your brain boost when moving your body? Perhaps then you tick the Kinesthetic box. I thrive with words—ideally with the aid of bullet-points on notecards—thus, I am designated a Read/Write learner. I often cite this internationally-recognised morsel of fact as proof that my lifelong addition to list-making is a biological condition—not a quirky habit.
- Evocative: I was never a girl who knew what she wanted to be when she grew up. I was always a writer but also painted, danced, studied law and fronted bands. I love this list (attached). I recall the sun-filled afternoon ten years ago when I leaned my red head against that of a charismatic bassist, after he convinced me to belt the blues in his local band, and jotted down set-list ideas. What a mixed-up mixture of tunes! I see ‘Valerie’ there and lurch slightly with sadness for Amy Winehouse; I applaud our aim to perform alternative versions of Dylan and Lou Reed and The Smiths. The band proved a mild success. Then I left. The bassist tragically died of a heart-attack too young. I cast eyes over this list and remember all of this. I revel in memory of the vivacious, vigorous girl of my youth and measure her against who I am now. What would grace my set-list today?
- Emotive: I discovered an old To-Do list yesterday on which, amongst seven actions, number six was a prompt to purchase a card for my Uncle David. That is the only item not crossed off on this list. I did not buy the card. David died a month later. The regret in my belly is a shaming, black mass. This was a timely discovery to reflect upon as my mother spoke about her brother recently and I realised the pain of loss shall always lurk within her.
- Momento: My lists are precious mementos of spaces where I have reclined with pen and paper, when I expressed a fleeting thought, outlined ingredients and method for a delicious recipe, encapsulated what I ate, whom I loved and what my DIY plans were to redecorate the nearly twenty bedrooms I have inhabited throughout my well-travelled life.
- Memento: Remember this Guy Pearce film where his character suffers short-term memory loss every five minutes? As I age, I am him. My memory is fading at speed so I employ post-its daily to squiggle ideas for writing plots and reminders of big events for the day. My fridge is speckled with them.
- Moments: Etched in my long-term memory, this vivid day: I am a lean, long-legged twelve year-old girl, coasting on my new ten-speed bicycle in summer sunshine. Clipped to beltloops is a vintage Walkman, into my ears streams a classic Go-Go’s cassette. Belinda Carlisle is singing ‘Girl of 100 Lists’ and, even in that yet-to-fully-blossom body and mind, I feel a connection beyond my years and my small town, affinity to a woman singing about her obsession with lists. To observers, this would strike as an ordinary girl on an ordinary day but that moment was a gift to me. Hell–if an all-girl rock band could make lists sound cool then, by association, I felt that much cooler myself.
Oh, for the love of lists!
Estella Lynch, 2017
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