Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Path

I am on a memoir reading kick right now. This happens every so often; this need to get into another person's head. It allows me to see my own journey through life linked to the journeys of my fellow human beings. We all walk this path of life together, straying from the group at different turns, but ultimately winding up in the same place.

I have strayed again.

I recently went out for a run with my daughter. The air was crisp and springlike despite the December calendar date. Frost glistened on the grass that should be covered with snow this time of year. The sky was a deep blue and the white birches that can be seen all over my neighborhood stood out against the setting. "They remind me of Robert Frost's farm in Derry," I told my girl. "I used to take you there when you were a baby." They remind of of my favorite frost poem, "Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both..."

Finding her own path
I have chosen my path and have decided to follow it to the end. I don't know what that end might be for me, but I have strayed far enough from the last path to know that I am committed.

In the aptly named memoir that I just completed, "Without a Map," Meredith Hall discuss how life takes us to unexpected places. Along the way we find joy and pain. We are wrapped into the lives of others - a fine weaving of stories with many different ways to be told. This has always been my fascination with archives and with history. How can one person take in all those stories, to better understand herself, to define herself to others, to make all those stories part of her own.

I have been asked why I am interested. Why are all those stories -- your stories -- important to me? It connects me and grounds me and provides me with a meaning I crave. I internalize the stories and then have a further longing to share them - To find folks like you who understand the importance of this connection and to find happiness in it.

I am an archivist and a librarian, but outwardly the librarian part is singing more loudly right now. This is the path I am taking. We never fully leave any of the paths we've chosen behind. Meredith Hall has expressed that so well. I know this. It was nice to read about it from the perspective of another. Yet, despite volunteering at my local historical society and starting a school archives, I know that many friends and colleagues see the label "librarian" on my forehead with that other label "archivist" perhaps tucked neatly in a front pocket.

I like to think that these high school students of mine find something useful in my archivist's perspective. The idea that we are connected on a journey by stories is something that I carry with me always.

I have taken a large step. I have transformed fully in the last two-and-a-half years from Melissa to Ms. Mannon. Working with teens makes a middle aged women feel older and maybe a little wiser. I have saved many stories in the archives I have tended over the years. I have more than enough to share in almost any situation I find myself. I am surprised to find that I understand each of their stories, feel compassion for each of their places in the world. I want to help others find the tools within and outside of themselves to make their own mark, for now I am also a teacher. This is my path. This is what I follow.

This is what ArchivesInfo has become.