This is where it gets interesting…
This afternoon, I got up on a chair and started pulling boxes off the top shelf of the closet. Tucked back there was one box that I have been sorting through for the past few hours…
Inside are literally hundreds of cards and letters. Just about every card or letter or postcard I’ve received in my life. I consciously kept them all – partly to prove that I had existed, partly to be able to go back and look at them later, partly because I’m a student of history and secretly hoped that one day historians would pore over my letters (primary sources, in history-speak).
The box of cards and letters was quite large and I decided that I didn’t really want to continue to blindly keep ALL of them. So, I sat down this afternoon to pick through them and keep the ones that mean the most to me.
Inside, I found old valentines from when I was in elementary school, notes from my best friends in high school, letters back and forth between pen pals, drawings from kids that I used to babysit, notes from my grandma, letters I received in college when my friends and I would update each other the old fashioned way so that we’d have packages to open and keep us all smiling. It reminded me how much I used to write real letters – and how much I really loved it. (Mental note to self, must start writing snail mail again…)
Some of what I found made me laugh, hysterically, and some of it had me in tears. All of it tells of beautiful and close relationships – and of how much I have grown.
A few years ago, my parents and my brother and I all happened to be in my home town at the same time, with a few hours to kill. There also happened to be boxes and boxes of old stuff in my mom’s garage that needed cleaning out. So, we all pitched in and went through the boxes, laughing at what we found and talking openly about memories that came up as we sorted through old books and school papers and childhood toys. My brother and I had kept a LOT of stuff, just sticking it in boxes for some later point in time. On that day, I got rid of almost everything I had kept. But, I also had the amazing opportunity to cherish each item amongst the only other people who would understand its importance. I think that we keep a lot of what we do because it reminds us of a particular memory. We may not really be attached to the object, but we feel the need to hold onto it because of that memory. On that day, with my family, I was able to experience all of those memories attached to all of those things – and create a new, even more precious memory that’s not at all connected to a thing.
Today, going through these letters reminded me of so many various moments in my life – and I am thankful for this experience. In the end, I decided to release the cards with simple messages and keep the letters (after all, my history is contained within these letters).