• Mallory Garber

Keepsakes you can Keep Forever | NotForgotten Time Capsules

This blog is me challenging you to build a better future from your past. Our stories matter, save them in a time capsule.

It’s always the same warm, nostalgic tingle that settles in my bones while watching home videos. It’s like wrapping a soft blanket of memories around my shoulders filling me with safety and comfort. My family and I have a tradition of coming together every couple months, despite our busy schedules and fast-paced lives, to crowd around the TV and watch old home movies. Between the five us… we have some pretty interesting stories. It is nice to know my sister pulled the same tricks she did when I was two years old, 20 years later. Some things never change, right? Although, I am glad to see that my dad’s retro style has. Home videos are always our main source of entertainment at family reunions. It breaks the awkward conversations about what we have done to fill our time since we had last seen each other. These videos give us a chance to step out of whatever crazy reality we are settled in and remember simpler times. Something about watching your 3-year-old self stuff your face with absolutely no grace or care in the world is hilarious. That is where the magic in all of this is, watching my uncle who works a full-time job and handles three kids laugh until tears are brought to his eyes. These memories are a temporary break allowing us to reminisce on all the things that brought us to where we are in life today.

I think the most cherished memories we have saved are with those who are no longer with us. My sisters, cousins, and I used to put on a play for our whole family using all our grandmother’s silk scarves and jewelry. Looking back on what we thought was an elaborately executed form of art turned into a bunch of toddlers dancing around spewing nonsense. Now being 20 years-old watching my grandparents’ mock laughter and congratulations for our benefit fills me with so much respect and gratitude. It is clear from these videos how much our elders encouraged us to become our very best selves, something that’s not so clear in innocence. Seeing my late grandparents uplifting smiles and spirit place the same feeling of inspiration as it did when they were around. My grandpa always used to say, “you eat that broccoli and you will live 100 years longer.” While that phrase always remains in my head as a silly reminder, actually hearing his voice in tape makes us all relive the experience.

So, I know what you are thinking: “why is this random girl ranting about her family?” Honestly this is not something I thought I would find myself writing about, but I am glad I actually got the opportunity to. I am currently a junior in college and the inevitable, impending fear of never finding a job has finally settled in. In a frantic effort to beef up my resume, I came across NotForgotten. Growing up, I have always had a passion for writing. I believe it is the best form of communication to break through to an audience and truly get them to feel what is being projected at them. My university simply sent out an email with the subject line “internship opportunities,” and NotForgotten’s blogging intern position seemed the most appealing to me. At first, I really did not know what to expect. I knew just as much about the company as you do at this point. What I did not anticipate was how interested I would be by the complex technology this company holds. After doing my research and truly understanding the goal behind NotForgotten, I thought to myself, “not only am I getting experience, but I get to write about something I genuinely think people should be aware of.” When it comes to time capsules, it seems like a pretty simple concept right? Well, not exactly. We forget to think about the logistics that go into burying objects into the earth’s deep soil for no given length of time. Not only do you have to worry about data rot, but literal physical rot that can seep into the time capsule and harm your belongings. There is also the fear of that time capsule being too hard to find. Could you imagine 80 years from now your descendants are running around a large field with a shovel trying to find a big chunk of metal filled with your most cherished items? NotForgotten offers a digital vault that seals any content you want.

The International Time Capsule Society was created to maintain a global database of all known time capsules. The Not Forgotten Digital Preservation Library contains a current map and register of domestic and commercial time capsules. While it may just seem like another website promising you false realities, NotForgotten actually has something no other does. Their latest technology they developed allows the vaults to hold memories up to 300 years, longer than any site can save data without being damaged in the process. In essence, think of NotForgotten as your safest option…because it is. I, personally, cannot not think of anywhere I would rather keep my most savored keepsakes. It is the family scrapbook that never deteriorates.

As much as we do not want to admit it, the world is evolving, making concepts like a physical time capsule out of date. Realistically, we need to keep moving with the times. My home videos were filmed with a VCR tape… two decades later VCR tapes are no longer popular, and the quality of the film is starting to sputter out. Over the years it has become harder to comprehend content within the film, and I have to now live with the fear that when I have children these videos may no longer be available. After hearing about NotForgotten, I now have a solution to that problem. I can transfer all that film into a vault, preserving its quality and condition.

It is not only the good memories that are important to remember, but all the memories in between. Think back to middle school: awkward stances, metal blocks for teeth, acne cluttering your cheeks. How could you want to forget that?! It is fun looking back and seeing how much you have grown as a person. I love cringing at my old go-to peace sign hand signals and duck faces. It is comical, yet reassuring, to realize I have found myself. I can think of the exact photo I would want kept in a capsule. I would embrace every bit of laughter from my children and husband because frankly, I deserve it. I would have made fun of myself if I had seen me in a hallway! The background of the photo was my middle school’s bright red lockers. Just seeing them makes me remember how excited I was to make the leap out of elementary school, being that lockers resembled some form of adulthood. In front of the lockers there I stood next to a boy I had a huge crush on.

Looking back on it, I cannot even remember his name but at that moment I can recall my exact feelings. My 13-year-old self had thought she found her soulmate and rejoiced at the thought of posing next to him, even though she had never exchanged words with the boy. In the picture, my metal mouth is spread into a wide smile and we stood 4 feet apart with our hands by our side because we were too scared to stand too close to each other. It is memories like that I want to remember forever: to preserve my innocence and young thoughts. It is too easy to get caught up in the moment, too easy to forget what we used to be like. I also like realizing in some ways I haven’t changed at all. I think we all have key qualities about ourselves that make us unique. My mom would always say mine was the dimple that pierces my right cheek and soft quiet demeanor. Watching my life over the years those two things never changed. In most of our home videos and photos I sit quietly with everyone’s chatter, just happy to be there observing it all.

I want to be able to answer my kids when they ask me what I used to be like. I want to show them a picture of my first boyfriend, my first dog, my college roommates. Women Daily even says,

“There’s even a whole phobia, athazagoraphobia, dedicated to the fear of being forgotten. With NotForgotten, people can tell their life story first-hand and offer life advice for their future family members.”

As cliché as it may sound, you only live once (YOLO), why not capture the moment? There is also the phrase “I have to see it to believe it,” which is something I can imagine being held against me as an adult. Now, when I tell people I met my favorite character from “The Vampire Diaries,” an embarrassingly dramatic TV show about a hopeless love triangle, I have proof!

Without memories, our lives are just like a giant puzzle with blank pieces. Memories fill our minds with life and color. The biggest part of moving forward is having the ability to look back. I could not imagine a life where I did not have the constant reminder of how much my friends and family have always been there for me. Whenever I get lost in my head, those memories are what bring me back and center me. I want to be able to hold onto those comforting thoughts forever and let the generations beyond me know them too. You never know how important you will be however many years from now. A Prime example of this is Andy Warhol. Rebecca Onion explained in her article, “Time in a Bottle,” that

“Andy Warhol stuffed 600 boxes with random crap from his daily life, calling them ‘time capsules’ and thinking that he would eventually auction them off unopened. The capsules are now at Pittsburgh’s Warhol Museum, which has created a series of videos showing archivists unboxing them.”

One of my favorite items my mom has savored over the years is her mother’s glass hairbrush. I never got the opportunity to meet my grandmother, but I can see just how much she loved my mom through the way my mother cherishes it. As a kid, I used to sneak into my mom’s closet and reach into the spot she thought she hid the brush so well and admire it. As her kid, I wanted to feel connected to my grandmother the same way my mom did through that brush.

Such simple objects carry so much weight over time, reflecting so much more than its inanimate status. My sister keeps a penny her first boyfriend gave her on their anniversary. I asked her why she still has it and she explained, “I like remembering the night through something as simple as a penny.”

You are now nearing the end of my rant. Did I convince you how important it is to preserve important moments from your past? I am not trying to sell you NotForgotten, I am trying to help you find your own value. We have so much more to offer the world other than our present selves. Don’t get me wrong, I am sure you are great…but don’t you want people to know why? Even just being a junior in college, I find myself reminiscing on my freshman year, unwilling to forget how far I have come. Within that three year span, I had switched majors, moved into two different apartments, and made new friends.

Now what I am left thinking about is how quickly it has zoomed past me and how all I am going to have left are my amazing memories.

This blog is me challenging you to build a better future from your past. Take that picture, stream that video, hold onto that silly object that reminds you of something. Make experiences you can look back on and think “good times” with a sly grin and nostalgic eyes. Think of your future self: middle-aged, full-time job, 4 kids. Don’t you want to reminisce on a Saturday night in your early 20s? Dressing up in your finest clothes, going out to a dirty college bar. Sounds like a dream, doesn’t it? Well, you lived it! Reassure yourself of how special life can be and all the crazy places it can take you. Make sure your legacy lives on beyond you. I think of our current situation living in the year of 2020. We are literally living the pages of a history textbook. I hope to look back (mask-less) and think “I can’t believe that really happened.” While I think of now as my “new normal,” I know another form of normal is just around the corner. It is so important to keep stories like these running in families. They are a reminder of core roots and values. More importantly, they serve as reminders and life lessons. Embrace the good, bad, and all the past have to offer.

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