At the foot of my bed sits a trunk. It has sat at the foot of my bed, wherever that bed may have been, for the past fourteen years. In this trunk sits my memories.
This past weekend I tackled the arduous task of sorting through my memories. I feared opening that lid would be similar to that of Pandora's box. I worried that lifting the hefty stack of journals strewn across the bottom would result in my sitting back against the trunk, opening, reading, remembering. I envisioned laughing at my 12 year old self and her professions of love to boys I can't place, even after reading my own painstakingly detailed descriptions. I would cry for my fourteen year old self living too far from home in a cold condominium. I would resent my sixteen year old self for her cruelty to her mother. And I would fear for my twenty year old self and what lay before her in the coming year. Lastly, my breath would catch at all the thousands of memories I've since forgotten hidden amongst those pages. And I would inevitably alternate rage with tears.
There was just no need to face any of this. Not now.
So I approached the trunk with ambivalence, but also a sense of purpose. I flipped the pages of a random journal, my foreign handwriting looking insecure, as if it was only whispering its thoughts. I picked up another and read the inside cover and couldn't refrain from whispering a hurtful "fuck you" to the person whose left hand wrote the inscription. My penmanship in this journal was harsh, angry; like the straight edges of the words themselves could cut the reader. I didn't allow my eyes to form sentences, I only flipped the pages. I crossed the room to my end table to pick up my current journal. The hand writing is sloppy, rushed, but purposeful. My handwriting over the years tells a story in itself.
Journals stacked on the side, I lifted my baby blanket and found a large collection of papers sealed with twine in a plastic folder. With a sigh and a smile, I sat. For in that folder were my writings. Stories, poems, letters; it was all in there, even a few drawings. I don't have the heart to get rid of a single yellowed page, even though I understand it's just the musings of a young girl. I like to think one day a child of mine will stumble upon this folder, perhaps in an attic, and will get to see a side of their mother they didn't know.
Also crushed near the bottom was my brother's wide brim Bushmaster hat he gave me a week after my thirteenth birthday. Actually, to say he gave it to me is a lie. He told me I ruined it and should just keep it. You see, I wore it in the pouring rain while sitting on the beach watching he and his friends surf and the brim got all droopy. I wrote a story about that hat and the day for English class. It's in the folder of course with a large "A" adorning the top.
I sorted everything I kept from Mike and spent the most time looking at the letters, cards, ticket stubs, show flyers, as I knew they would bring me no hurt. I sorted notes and cards from my mother into a separate pile as these are equally important artifacts.
I was relieved to see evidence that I undertook this task sometime in the not so distant past as the most difficult sentiments (including those from past loves) were already condensed to a few special items, mainly for the simple sake of remembering. I recall I did this soon after Mike and I became engaged. It was clearly the time to let go so that's what I did.
Other random items include the brown and white plaid apron my childhood self wore as I waitressed my play food, my puffy painted name still intact; my sister-in-law's garter, which I caught the day she and my brother were married; my favorite pocketbook, worn beyond repair, which Mike affectionately referred to as my bag of death; a yellowed album of every card I received for my first birthday, now permanently stuck to its backing. I think of my Mom and how she was once the kind of mother who was organized and made this album. I believe it is the last of its kind.
And the pictures! My God, the pictures: the remnants of my mother and father's wedding album, the plastic sheets slashed by the razor my mom took to its pages. Boxes upon boxes of our childhood photos I believe I may have stole from my mother's basement in an effort to salvage history. All this and more lays within the trunk at the foot of my bed.
Everything is now safely tucked back inside, minus the few collectibles I have decided to sell. I completed the task unscathed, except for the persistent question growing in my mind of why I choose to keep this somewhat random sampling of my life.
I am reminded that the Buddhists believe a truly happy man is a man who can lose every possession, yet still be a happy man. I can part with possessions easily, but I don't view the contents of my trunk as possessions, but strictly memories that happen to exist in tangible form. Memory triggers?
At any rate, the contents of my trunk hold my story. I don't know what is in store for me, but I do not intend to stop valuing my experiences and relationships and therefore, the contents of this trunk which sits at the foot of my bed will grow. I only hope to be well thought of enough when I've gone, that at least one person will not view my trunk as a storage box, but as a treasure chest instead.
Posted to criscipline.blogspot.com 4/18/11