Everyday People

6 Nov

Today’s a pretty important day over here in the U.S. Some might even call it “historic.” And while I certainly don’t want to diminish the significance of today’s elections, I’d like to direct your attention to a different kind of a history, just for a few minutes.

The other day, the administrator of a historic home explained to me that they can’t declare that anyone famous lived/slept/breathed there without very concrete proof, i.e. a visitor log, belongings that were left behind, DNA, etc. That’s why hotels tend to have more “so and so was here” signs than other places- they have guest registers and are more likely to have the right info to make the claim. It made me giggle to think of just how many hotels would be able to put up “Felicia slept here” plaques if I were to become famous. After all, I’ve stayed in at least 20 hotels in the last year alone. You’re welcome, hotel friends!

But if I don’t become famous, it’s not like that history disappears. My everyday, personal history still matters, and it’s still there, seeping around the corners of the places I’ve been. It may not be evident to anyone else… but it’s undeniably there. As I think back to all the places I’ve lived and visited, I have very vivid memories of what happened at specific intersections, in particular restaurants, etc. That’s my everyday history- it’s the things that have happened to me and have shaped my life. Some of them may be classified “monumental” on my personal timeline- e.g. graduating from college- but others are simply memories of a really lovely afternoon or a particularly great first date.

You know when you walk through a historic site and there’s little plaques everywhere telling you what happened in each exact spot? Now imagine doing that to the town you live in. Where would those plaques go? What moments would you deem important enough to mark? What moments would you keep to yourself? It boggles my mind to think about how many people’s lives have played out in the exact same places, unbeknownst to anyone but the parties involved. For example, there’s a spot in the main square of Madrid that I specifically associate with meeting a particular new friend. But that square has been integral to Madrid since at least the 15th century. So, I wonder, how many other sets of new friends have met in that same spot? What other personal histories have played out there? If I were to round up 25 Spaniards and take them to that spot, would it also be on their personal history guided tour? Or, maybe, they would have never even noticed that spot before, and they’d be surprised to hear I find it so important.

I know you all want to get back to monitoring your Facebook newsfeed’s reactions to Election Day, so I’ll wrap up here. But when all the hoopla of the Election has died down a bit, I encourage you to rewind your brain and think about what happened to YOU, specifically, over these few days. Elections and voting aside. YOUR life, the apolitical part. Because maybe what happened to YOU, personally this week is not going to change the way our country is run- but it might be an important part of the Biography of You.

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One Response to “Everyday People”

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  1. When History Gets Personal | Culture Cookies - July 13, 2016

    […] memory, collective memory and “history” overlap. It boggles my mind to think about all the things that have happened at a particular site. Not just the monumental moments, but the things that make up “normal” people’s […]

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