Recently my daughter Katie received an email informing her of her college mailing address and dorm room phone number. When she gave me a copy of that information, at first I wasn't sure what to do with it. Where should I record it? Then it occurred to me. I should put it in my address book. That felt very surreal me. My daughter would have her own entry in my address book. The first of many addresses I will record for her, I'm sure. More than getting her driver's license, or getting accepted to college, or turning 18 (which she did this past weekend) - writing her name and her very own address in my address book made it official to me that she is now a grown up. It caught me off guard. Recording a separate address for my own child really symbolizes for me that she is beginning her own life, separate from that of our family. Wow! That feels really, really strange.
After giving Katie her very own entry in my address book, I absent-mindedly flipped through the pages and realized that an address book is really an archive of one's life. Coincidentally, I bought this address book when I was a newly married young woman beginning my new life with my new husband. So this particular address book is really a record of my married life. I read through the names and addresses of both my and my husband's relatives, our college friends home addresses and then later their own addresses as they moved out on their own. And I even recorded the names of their children as they were added to their families. There are the names of neighbors and friends from our life in AZ, Girl Scout leaders, Bunco and book club members, and even a couple we met on a cruise and stayed in touch with for a few years. Some of the people listed there are no longer alive, but seeing their names in my address book brings them to mind and reminds me of their importance in my life. It was such a wonderful walk down memory lane to read those names from my present and my past. Many of them I haven't thought about it years, but there they all were. Reminders of my relationships and friends from my past. Which reminded me of all the stages of my married life - our first home in a rented condo and the friends we made there. The first home we bought and the women I met at the neighborhood playground. Right up to the newest entry - my very own Katie. And it occurred to me, my address book is really a history of my life.
A few days ago Katie came home from the local bookstore with a brand spanking new address book of her own. She wants to fill it with all her high school friends and relatives before she goes off to college. I advised her to fill it in in pencil, so she can change the addresses as her friends embark on their very own journeys to independence. Someday I hope Katie can look back on her address book and reminisce about her own life's journey. I wonder how she will feel when she has to write the name of her son or daughter on their very own space in her address book. My guess is that it will be a combination of pride and wistfulness.