I decided to take some time off from work and go visit my family back home for a week. My parents moved house and there were boxes everywhere. Many, I would later learn, were mine. Boxes that have been moved from house to house, always getting bigger and heavier with pictures and letters and diaries and movie stubs and coasters from places I no longer remember and handmade bracelets and a rusting half heart pendant that I shared with my best friend when we were in 6th grade. The amount of memories in these boxes is enough to fill a lifetime, and I still have a long life to live and more memories to make.
The thing about these story-packed boxes is that they got all mixed up through the years and the many moves. I start looking at pictures from my high school prom night and the one that pops up next is from 2nd grade, and just as quickly I flip to junior year at university. My brain is being stretched and is jumping from one decade to the next and back again.
Looking back at these boxes, stories I had completely forgotten I had lived and friendships I had long forgotten I had came back into my mind, front and center. I will admit, I am old enough to say that, back in my time, we still wrote letters to friends and family when we traveled, letters that took hours to write and weeks to be delivered. When someone wrote you a letter, a serious investment of their time, the most valuable resource, was spent on you. Isn’t that very special?
I also lived in a time where we had to develop our pictures and anxiously wait for days to see them, only to find 4 out of the 32 pictures actually clear or remotely frame-able. Pictures were a precious commodity and they captured the truth. There were no second takes and certainly no deletions. Those pictures were real and much more authentic than our filtered, edited and color-corrected reality (though my fashion sense in those days is questionable, to say the least).
Life is constantly evolving and circumstances change, people move countries, change jobs, get married, get divorced, become doctors, sky dive, have a near death experience, lose a pet, adopt a baby… and through it all, relationships change.
One thing stays the same: the bond you had with one person at one point in your life was real back then, in that exact moment in time, and the stars were aligned just so you could have that moment. Regardless of what happened next, where the waves took you or which fork in the road separated the streams of your lives, at one time in your life, this person was special to you.
Deep inside of me, I felt love for everyone in my past, who led me to my present. I remembered conversations and moments that were tucked away deep inside my brain.
The memories came flooding back and created a mix of tears of joy and some of sadness. Faces and smiles and letters and words, all jumbled up to create my life. What a gift.
I wonder what I’ll find in the boxes I unpack another 38 years from now. I better start collecting more stories and more memories, and so should you.