I’ve always kept a memory box. None of your nicely curated ones with the pretty covers, neatly annotated photos and properly catalogued albums. Just the random flotsam and jetsam of my life.
Somewhere in our basement is a collection of boxes, battered and bruised. They contain the memorabilia of growing up, the bits and pieces I’ve found it necessary to keep over the years. Always with the vague idea that, one day, I would look fondly through these things and remember that one particular moment: this elation, that heartbreak, the time we… The broken guitar string. The cigarettes I believed I’d never give up.
Thankfully I did quit, and my broken heart mended. And though I never seem to find time to sort through all the keepsakes, I roost upon them like a clucking hen, hoping that one day they’ll hatch into something.
In among the boxes are photos, unsorted, mostly in the envelopes they used to come in when you picked them up from the drug store. What? Yes, mes enfants, we did that.
There are birthday greetings and farewell cards, both funny and corny. Party invitations, concert ticket stubs, student travel cards. There are yearbooks with messages earnest and flip from people I went to school with and have mostly forgotten. Crude comments from clever boys. There is an impassioned letter with an embarrassingly bad poem written by a doorman in London whose heart I apparently stole with my ‘face like an elfin grove.’
There are poems and lyrics of my own, a few that got published in high school reviews. There are my on-again, off-again journals – the sporadic ramblings that kept me sane pre-blog era.
There are the letters – ah, the letters! – exchanged over months of overseas correspondence with a certain Frenchman. And the postcard that changed everything. The one that made me decide he was serious.
There are the family mementos, the cards my kids made for Mother’s Day. Souvenirs of holidays in France and trips back to Canada. Ghosts of Christmas past.
The boxes have gotten thinner of late. Now most of our memorabilia is online. This makes me sad. Nothing can replace the treasures hidden inside my memory box.
Recently I’ve dug through some of it, pulling out pieces I needed for my memoir. So far, though, most of my memorabilia has yet to be released from its boxed purgatory. But I’m glad I saved it, every last bit.
Thanks to Colin Bisset, whose excellent blog recently reminded me of the importance of keeping a journal.
Do you keep a memory box?