Leisah Woldoff

Are photo albums baggage or souvenirs?

I wish that everyone observed Yom Kippur – a time of repentance and to think about the consequences of their actions.

Maybe then whoever it was who stole my bike might have reconsidered.

Sitting in synagogue for hours provides a lot of thinking time. My mind wove in and out of concentration as I was sitting and standing, sitting and standing.

Am I supposed to automatically forgive the person who stole the bike from my backyard? He or she never asked for my forgiveness; I doubt they’d even given it a second thought.

Then I thought, maybe it was a good thing that my bike was stolen – it could have been much worse. Last month, my Homeowner’s Association minutes reported that cars had been stolen from the property – that makes a bike seem less important. And that’s even without delving into any of the other “what-ifs.”

Then of course there’s that prayer that pretty much sums up the High Holidays: The one that begins, “Who shall live and who shall die…” That can certainly bring in a dose of perspective.

Every year has its highs and lows, some much higher and others much lower. But compared with all the other possibilities, I think a stolen bike is certainly one of the lesser evils.

I had a rather unusual pre-High Holiday experience this year. The week before Rosh Hashana, I visited Los Angeles to clean out a storage space I shared with my ex-husband that we’d been procrastinating cleaning out for the past four years.

Although the timing was coincidental, I think it fit in well with the arrival of a new year. The physicality of going through boxes I hadn’t seen in years and discarding things that I once thought I’d want to keep felt quite appropriate. Last time I drove from L.A. to Phoenix, it was in a Ford Taurus packed with basics: clothes, compact discs, my guitar and a few mementos. This time it was a 14-foot U-Haul truck.

Even after donating boxes of books, bags of clothes and a great deal of other miscellaneous items, my second bedroom is still filled with rows of boxes.

Luckily my new place has some storage space, but I still have to figure out what to do with some of this stuff.

For instance – the wedding album.

I imagine many divorced couples store away the wedding albums for the sake of their children. But in our case, we have no children to save it for. But there are also photos of family members who are no longer alive and of friends I’ve lost touch with.

I also have several albums filled with photos of vacations, family get-togethers and holiday celebrations – many of which naturally have photos of my ex-husband. I don’t want to get rid of those albums either – after all, I’m never going to be in my 20s again and I don’t want to erase those seven years of my life.

I’m not sure what most ex-couples do with photo albums or how my future significant other will feel about it, but I think those photo albums are souvenirs of my life, rather than “baggage.” It’s not like I’m going to display them on my bookshelves; rather I’ll leave them in boxes to look at years from now.

So with the “souvenirs” soon to be packed away – and a new roll of film in my camera – another year begins.

Happy New Year!

This article first appeared in the Oct. 10, 2003 issue of Jewish News of Greater Phoenix.