I learned a secret in kindergarten that I’ve never forgotten. Without water, there would be no zoos.
It’s the honest truth. A short paper I wrote when I was, like, five said that without water there would be dead people around; there wouldn’t be any trees or grass; there wouldn’t be any zoos; and, last, that there wouldn’t be any animals, either. I suppose that without grass, trees or zoos, the animals wouldn’t have had any place to live, and that’s why they went last.
That paper turned up in the middle of my last cleaning project. Apparently when you move out you’re actually supposed to take all your stuff with you, so I came home last week with two totes full of old school papers that I had to go through. Until I did, the boxes sat in the middle of the living room, obstructing the view of the TV and banishing all hope of watching a movie.
As you can imagine, this cleaning project didn’t get put off long.
I sat down two nights later to sift through the folders full of certificates, crafts and sundry reports. I don’t think I realized how many random books I had no recollection of reading. The book reports were proof.
I saved the best of the things, including the “life without water” essay. (Does five numbered sentences count as an essay? I mean, it’s almost like five paragraphs… really short ones.) But I threw away upwards of ninety percent, I suppose. I have no idea what made me keep math homework for this long.
A couple gems turned up in the sorting. I found a few postcards from my field trips one year, and another year’s papers included a summary of an interview I did with a woman who has since passed away. I kept those.
Two file boxes of college notes called to me, too, for a culling. My rule of thumb here was that if I remembered actually learning something in the class, then it might be worth it to keep the notes. If I remembered learning something related to one of my majors, then it was more likely I’d keep the notes. However, if what I remembered learning was covered by some random book from the library—those notes were surely the reason for the invention of the circular file.
I ended up with one tote moderately full of all 17 years of schooling plus a few extra notebooks (mostly because they contained bits of poetry I didn’t want to lose). Maybe that’s too much, but I’m my dad’s daughter and I can’t give up the pack-rat tendencies I inherited.
But I still wonder. Does anyone really go back and look at their class notes from college?
Most people just doodled, after all. A lot of good that’s going to do you. “Um, I think this doodle means that the novel is an example of Bildungsroman… or that the professor was boring that day.”