I have a calendar on my kitchen wall that tells the story of my life better than any journal ever could. It is one of those Month-At-A-Glance paper behemoths, the kind you used to see on desk tops in offices, used for a blotter as much as a calendar. Just like the rolodex, it’s been replaced by technology. Now, schedules are kept constantly updated on computers and smart phones that sync with each other. We are bracingly organized, with time managed and doled out incrementally.
But I like my outmoded calendar. Yes, it clashes with the décor and takes up space that could be more prettily arranged. I’ve had nicer wall calendars, usually given to me by my mother in hopes that I would rid my kitchen of the behemoth. But those calendars, lovely though they have been, have never soothed my scheduling soul quite like the ugly, industrial calendar seems to do.
I’ve tried to evolve. I had a Day Planner for several years and it was acceptable. One year I forgot to get a refill for it and the next thing I knew I was printing out a monthly calendar from Microsoft Publisher (that was many years ago, don’t judge) and using it instead.
I had one of the palm pilot-y things- a Sony?- that I used for about two weeks before tossing it into a drawer and never touching it again. And I do use my smartphone as an appointment reminder, so it’s not as if I disdain all electronic calendars.
There is something intrinsically pleasing about using a pen and paper. The feel of paper as I rest the side of my hand against it while writing, the sound of the pen as words and numbers flow onto the page; this pleases me so. And all the daily commitments and appointments and scribbled notes in the margin are visually far more satisfying than a calendar on a computer screen.
Every morning, as my sons and I pass through the kitchen in search of coffee and breakfast, we look at the calendar to assess our day. The boys add to it as they fill their own social calendars, and we all add symbols to mark dates we want to stand out. I long ago assigned a color for each of us, and by the end of a month a page can look like a bunch of kindergarteners went to town with markers. No smartphone app could possibly compare to that magic.
I’ve kept all the used pages of all the calendars I’ve had as an adult. My first one is blank until May, when there is a day circled wildly with the words “I’M PREGNANT!” inside. There are wonderful memories in the pages of those calendars- baby due dates and birthdays, first days of school and graduations, Halloween parties and vacation days. There are play dates and field trips, music lessons and always, hockey, hockey, hockey.
There are job interviews and work schedules, meetings and deadlines. Mini lists crowd the margins and I’ve written hundreds of phone numbers and directions that scrawl across the space of days.
There are reminders of sad times, too. Dates where jotted down bad news as I spoke on the phone- a friend in the hospital, a funeral to attend. There is a due date that never came, and the disintegration of my marriage is neatly chronicled in attorney appointments and court dates.
The story of my life is in those pages. Day after month after year, I was writing down our family's hopes and dreams, our sorrows and misfortunes. I thought I was just making sure I got a child to the orthodontist's on time, when in fact I was recording their childhood. The calendars are a treasure trove of the minutiae that make up our lives and shape us into the people we become.
So while I suppose I could use Google calendar more, I’ll stick with the behemoth on the wall. It might be industrial and clunky and technologically obsolete, but every day I look at it and see it filled with the color and wonder of every day life.
And a reminder, too, to cherish every moment, because it all goes by so very quickly.