Monday, October 20, 2008

A Suitcase of Memories

As far as I knew, I had moved completely out of my mom's house 14 years ago.  My mom has recently been insistent that I should take some time to clean my stuff out of the closet of my old bedroom.  I was all "what stuff?"

Finally she got me to go up into the closet, on a stepladder, dust cloth in hand.  On the very highest shelves, I did find archaeological evidence of my past life.  

A cassette-tape Sony Walkman.  Contact lens solution that expired in 1993.  The shoes I wore to my high school prom.  A straw hat with a lacy ribbon, very Pretty In Pink.

And then, the box.  Just a plain, cardboard box.  I lifted the lid.  Little did I know it was booby trapped.  A time bomb!  It went off in my face, and just like that I was back in high school.

It was everything my ex-husband had ever given me, from the sweet little cartoons he passed to me in grade nine geography class to portraits of me he'd drawn in his college Illustration course.  Two corsages, almost unrecognizable, crumbled to dust except for the shiny, elastic wristbands.  A candy necklace in an advance state of decay.  

I had also hung on to cards, doodles, and notes from other high school friends.  There were countless sheets of 8.5" x 11" paper covered with caricatures and notations from long-forgotten in-jokes.  There was a greeting card from a classmate called Richard, who invented his own system of spelling somewhat similar to LOLspeak, signed, as was his habit, "Wrych".

In high school I was a high-strung girl: by turns moody, neurotic, ecstatic, flirtatious, terrified, smitten, shy, and hungry for love.  When I was down, the whole world closed in.  When I was up, I flew straight for the sun.  The shoebox was like an urn, containing the ashes of my brightest-burning moments.

I must have kept everything ever signed To Spark, Love [Boyfriend].  It was very odd to find those sentiments, so heartfelt, addressed to me by two men who are both now married to other women.  One of them is a good friend still.  Ken and I visit him, his wife, and their one-year-old son at their home, which they are renovating.  It was so odd to be reminded of our teenage, nuclear-force love.  I was 15.  He was 17.  I thought he was so mature and worldly.  It just goes to show how everything is relative.

I didn't have time to sort through everything in the box.  There was more on the shelf.  More dusty old crap.  Crazy glue that had sat so long it wasn't crazy anymore.  My income tax statements from back in the day when being a summer camp counsellor was my only taxable income.  Reams of complicated sheet music, which I can't believe I ever managed to play on my long-gone violin.

The box is still sitting at my mom's house, waiting for me to sit down with it and go deeper.  I'm looking forward to finding more treasures, but also slightly dreading the emotional roller-coaster that might be triggered, depending on what I find.  We shall see.  In any case, I'm sure glad that I saved my mementos.  My sister might want the never-used neon-pink and neon-green shoelaces.  By next year, I bet they'll be totally back in style.

First one to identify the song that my post title comes from gets a gold star.


Anonymous said...

I bet your blog title is from some 1980's song that only you remember.

Pure Energy!

Warped Mind of Ron said...

I have no idea on the song. I bet it was quite a time capsule. Isn't it hard to realize that you were once something that is other than the now you? We all change so gradually that we never see the changes, but drop something like that and you see history.

Anonymous said...

First of all, throw that box of crap away. Yeah, I know, they're your memories. If it was really important stuff, you wouldn't have boxed it up 14 years ago. And if you need a decayed candy necklace to remember something, you don't need the memory.

And the song is Cyndi Lauper's Time After Time.

Keera Ann Fox said...

Ooh, "Time After Time", one of my faves! (But I'm shaky on the lyrics.)

Spark, I love your turn of phrase: "The shoebox was like an urn, containing the ashes of my brightest-burning moments." Brilliant writing!

Sparkling Red said...

Anonymous: Oh, I bet you'd remember it too.

Ron: Yup, it does feel like I was a whole other person back then. Makes me wonder what I'll think of me now when I'm 56!

Whatigotsofar: LOL I take it you're not a sentimental type of guy? Don't worry, I threw away the blackened candy and the corsage corpses.

Anonymous said...

Wow... Someone left a cynical comment.

I like memories. Sometimes you need to lose something and find it again to discover how important it is.

Anyone who places so little value on memories probably only has bad memories of their own.

Well written and fun.

Don't let other people turn up the "suck" nob to 11 on your life. YOU GO GIRL!


Sparkling Red said...

Keera: *GOLD STAR!*
I love that song. "If you're lost you can look and you will find me, time after time. If you fall I will catch you; I'll be waiting, time after time." I want to sing that song to all my dearest friends.
Many thanks for the compliment. :-)

Sparkling Red said...

Unsigned: The "suck knob"? I love it! Thanks for your sweet sentiments. Don't worry, I won't let the cynics get me down.

whatigotsofar said...

It's not that I'm unsentimental. I am. Very much so. But the stuff I want to remember, I keep that with me or close to me.
Every time I find some old junk around the house, all I can think of is "Why did I keep this crap?"

Karen said...

Last summer I found a binder of poetry that I wrote in junior high in the closet in my parent's shore house.

I had fun laughing at my "talent".

Sparkling Red said...

Whatigotsofar: I'm usually the same. I hardly hang on to anything material except stuff I've actively used within the past calendar year. I allow myself a relatively small stash of mementos, and in this case I just lost track of some of them. I have recently been struggling with an urge to burn all my journals, because they're so miserable and they take up so much freakin' space, but I'm not quite ready to let go of them yet.

Karen: Junior high? Ouch. :-)

Dianne said...

I have a box like that, I just keep moving it. I avoid opening it.

Leighann said...

Old memories can be hard, but sometimes they're so worth remembering again.

I hope you eventually finish going through the box.

Sparkling Red said...

Dianne: Now that's what I call a time bomb waiting to go off! I wonder if/when you'll open it, and I'm curious about what's inside. :-)

Leighann: I probably will, but I'm not in a rush to get back to it. It'd be a good rainy-afternoon activity.

nicole said...

I threw all my diaries & notes and such away on my last big move. Oh well.
I sometimes regret it, sometimes I don't.
But it's always part good & part bad to open Pandorra's Box ;)

And I love Time after Time, but wouldn't have recognized it in the title :)

Jenski said...

And you thought your mom did not have any of your stuff! I definitely still have boxes like that...and I know they are at my parents' house.