Yesterday a very odd thing happened to me. An archivist at one of the Maine universities suggested that I consider bequeathing my papers to the collection she manages. We were having coffee, enjoying each other's company, I was asking questions about the challenges of digital archives, she was telling me about all the housewifery books she had in her collection, when suddenly the topic of my papers arose.
Since then, I have been feeling strange. As Tom said to me immediately when I told him about the conversation, this is a such a good thing for the boys. They won't have to make decisions about what notebook scrawlings and computer files to keep or throw out. They'll know that these materials will have a home. But of course the strangeness arises in the notion that someone thinks they should have a home. All these years of my life, as I've read and written and puttered and scribbled, I haven't been thinking about anything beyond the circle of my own years. When I'm done, the work will be done. Imagining that someone, after my death, might want to try to figure out who I was from my paper scraps seems entirely unreal . . . though of course I do it to other people all the time.
Anyway, I won't dwell on the issue here. Suffice it to say, I'll likely begin thinking seriously about ways to plan for this transfer. It's undoubtedly the right thing to do for my kids, no matter how odd I feel about it otherwise.