I remember devouring as many words as I could by Kerouac, Ginsberg, Burroughs and the 'beat generation' when I was in my early twenties. Their writing tore through me, echoing through the chambers in my heart and they found a certain resonance within me.
How could their writing not impact me when I was trying to find an escape of my own.
In college my boyfriend and I would often go to the local coffee shop where we would browse books, study and browse some more. That bookstore guided my literary education. It saddened me when I returned to town to find it had closed and was now a tea shop. Where were the misfits like me to find a haven?
I remember finding a copy of Howl by Allen Ginsberg sitting on the shelf next to the table I was whiling away my time at. If you'd like you can go read it....I'll wait.
This copy though wasn't just of the poem. It was Ginsberg's edits. It was his original draft with his edits, then a copy of the next draft with words crossed out and notes in the margin, another draft and another until finally the poem was deemed complete.
It was thrilling to get a glimpse into Ginsberg's process. A peek at the way his mind worked and how he would choose and discard words until finding the right fit.
Then it struck me that someone saved this. This pile of papers that many people would look at and throw away managed to be saved and had enough value that someone published it so I could hold it in my hands and wonder.
I think this is why I hold on to things because I'm holding on to a historical record of my life. It's part of my story.My journals reveal my innermost thoughts and my day to day. My love letters that I keep in a box from my very first boyfriend are a record of his life. Those are even harder to get rid of because he died ten years ago. Old photos and concert stubs provide a patchwork quilt of my interests.
I'm not sure if I can let these things go.