I have kept a memory box for many years. A cute little cardboard keepsake from Joann’s, probably from the clearance aisle. In middle school, the memory box was filled up with my ribbons from horseback riding, ticket stubs from movie theater outings with my friends and the playbill from Wicked. These were the things most precious to me at the time. As high school arched it’s rambunctious head, my memory box started to fill with birthday cards, invitations to parties and honor society functions, things that began to take on more meaning in my life.
When I left for college, the box became inundated with graduation cards filled with well wishes but stripped of the money that went along with the sentiments, of course. In it I placed the note from my mother wishing me love, prosperity and happiness. I stowed away the letters from my sisters, expressing their joy at my new beginnings and their intense sadness that it meant me leaving the nest. The box became my lifeline to the world so far away. Summers in between college classes, the box began to fill with new memories. Ticket stubs from movies I never thought I would see, amusement parks and airline tickets to places filled with adventure. It began to fill up with letters from my new friend, away working at a summer camp, filled with plenty of lakeside shenanigans and a new beau.
As I let a boy venture into my life and eventually my heart, the box started to become home to our love letters, birthday cards, anniversary notes and reminders that long distance comes at a price. Moving into my latest new apartment this week, I found that the one thing most precious to me in the world was this box. A silly, five dollar cardboard bin from JoAnn fabrics that holds everything in the world that means the most to me. As I have battled through bouts of terrible loneliness, career changes, family breakups and crushing depression, this box has always been my source of solace.
It seems so simple, but the very act of knowingly finding a place for every kind word, well wish and profession of love that has come my way has given me renewed energy whenever I might be in need. I can’t imagine what I would have done at times if I hadn’t been able to lift the lid to my memory box and find comfort in the words of all my dearest friends and perhaps some that have drifted away. The power of nostalgia is not to be taken lightly. It enters our soul and finds a place to nest deep down, until we are just loud enough with our longing to stir the baby birds awake.
I’ll leave you with this, take time to write your feelings down. In a world of 140 character thoughts, sitting down to draft a letter seems mundane. I promise you it’s not. I have felt more warmth and love from my box of memories over the past year than I have ever felt sending an email or drafting a tweet. Take time to remind those around you how much you love them, put pen to paper and slap a stamp on a letter. In 8 years you might look back at your own box of memories and feel eternally grateful to have kept the words of your friends close to your heart, for all the days and nights they can’t be close to you themselves.