Who among us has not experienced that fateful day when our mothers told us that enough was enough; we had to tidy up and clean out the storage room? The storage room, or the room in our parents’ house where childhood memories have been stored over the years, along with school projects, notes from the university and a ton of objects that we left in their home when we finally struck out on our own. We promised that we’d come back to take it all away, but we never did, and it’s still in the same place as ever, gathering years and dust.
Well, it was my turn a few weeks ago. There was no way out of it. The junk room awaited me. Those who know me must be assuming that I loved going in there, mainly because of all the emotions it stirred up. And you’re not wrong, because, just as I’ve explained in another post, I have the flaw, or maybe virtue, of travelling back to the past all too easily and almost without realising it. In short, I’m a dreamer.
Of all the things I found, the one that left me transfixed was particularly special: my trading cards. A tin that used to hold toffee where I kept all my cards which in the mid-1980s were with me at school for hours and hours, carefully stowed inside my backpack. It was hard for me to open it because it was a bit rusty after so many years, but when the lid finally gave way and I saw the trading cards, it was as if I’d found a treasure.
The tin of trading cards smelled like the school playground, moist earth, childhood, uniforms and skinned knees. It sounded like happy cries at snack time, jump-roping chants, basketballs bouncing against the hoop and the bell telling us it was time to go back to class. Looking at these cards, I saw the faces of my classmates with a clarity almost as bright and shiny as the glitter glued to the most valuable cards in the tin. I even felt a sense of itchiness in red hands, red from hitting the ground so often in an effort to win as many cards as possible.
I felt like Amélie Poulain. Remember that scene in the film when she accidentally finds a tin hidden under a bathroom tile in her house which contained toys and old pictures? I felt the same way. Fortunately for me, the difference was that I didn’t have to go all around Paris in search of a Mr Dominique Bretodeau so I could give him back that bit of his childhood. That treasure was all mine.
Now that many readers of this blog know that the Antic Garatge is lowering its blinds, at least for a time, this episode of the trading cards involuntarily inspired a parallelism in my mind.
The Antic Garatge has also been a tin where post after post I have tried to write about coming upon surprises, sniffing out memories, rediscovering passions, reliving past times, unveiling secrets… It’s like a tin that doesn’t contain trading cards but instead has let me air emotions I carried inside me, emotions which apparently were eager to come out and see the world.
I’ve always liked writing, and I started writing the Antic Garatge as a fluke. Such an unlikely fluke as finding a tin of trading cards in the junk room. And as gratifying as it is surprising. I can only be grateful for this Antic Garatge, for letting me show a bit of my soul every now and then, and for having awoken the itch to keep telling my stories. Or if you prefer, to keep playing with trading cards.