Pandora's Box

Sometimes when you go searching for one thing, you end up uncovering something totally unexpected. I've been trying to find my black sandals for a couple of weeks now. I was all bummed when we went to the beach for a friend's wedding and discovered that I hadn't packed them. I just had my wedding shoes, spare heels "just in case" (for what? who needs heels at the beach ever?!) and my running shoes. No sandals. I figured I just left them at home. Well it's been two weeks now and I still can't find them. So I was searching upstairs in our closet, in storage areas I haven't touched in a while but that are accessible by my kids who have a habit of sometimes storing important items in the most random of places. They're just adorable like that.

So then I uncovered a box. A box I hadn't opened in probably 10 years, much less even remembered existed. I thought it was just an old box and I started to break it down for recycling when I realized it had contents. Naturally, I opened the box.


It's a good thing I had a glass of wine waiting for me in the living room. Never open these kinds of boxes without knowing what's in them, my friends. But then, after the initial horror, it wasn't all scary.

I uncovered photos of me and my family when I was a baby. Who knew I had these in my possession? Want to know what my daughter looks like? Here ya go. Except these are pics of chubby little me as a baby. The resemblance is super freaky. So sorry, dear baby girl, you're gonna look just like mama when you grow up. But look how cute we are as babies!

The photos were so great to discover. There were photos of me and my cousins as little kids, photos of me and my great-grandmother who passed away 1.5 years ago, photos of uncles and aunts and friends. There were middle school and high school wallet-size photos with the typical "stay cool this summer" signed by the BFF of the month. There were more photos. Then as I stripped away the layers of photos I uncovered the notes. I distinctly remember going through boxes and boxes of notes I had saved from middle and high school when I went to college and trashing them. Apparently, I saved some. ML, if you're reading this, I think there are some from you in there, girlfriend! And my poetry books. Holy cow, I wrote enough poems to fill several manilla file folders and at least a dozen spiral-bound notebooks. I read some of them. A few were ok. Then underneath the letters and notes were...things. gum wrappers friends had written on. Empty boxes that once held...what? Gifts? Smokes? Sugar packets friends had written on. Cards and stickers. And in the middle of it all, a letter I had placed in a box written January 15, 1994 and never sent.

I am rattled and a bit amused by all this because this is not what I know now. Back then, I apparently saved everything. Now, I save almost nothing. Photos, yes, but things? Even with my kids' baby items, I'm just not that sentimental about them. I even had to talk myself into holding onto their first baby clothes, for sentimental value, but the logical part of me just sees it all as stuff taking up room. I feel the same way about my kids' artwork (bad mama, I know, but really: what will a half-colored page of a fireman drawing mean to my kid in the future?). My life is about people and memories, not things.

And yet, I sat there, surrounded by Pandora's beautiful and sometimes painful insides, thinking that maybe it's not such a bad idea to save some things. To understand who we are now, we sometimes have to look back at who we were. I admit that some of these seemingly random, unimportant odds and ends in the box slowly started to take shape and importance in my head. I eventually remembered. I got it. I smiled. I put the things, including the gum wrappers, back in the box, closed the lid, and placed it back in its space. At least I know it's there now. It can't assault me unexpectedly on a lovely Friday night again.

So for my kids, I think I will start to save more for them from now on. Who am I to decide what is or is going to be important to them later in life? When they are grown, they can make those decisions of what to toss and what to keep.

I didn't realize I had a Pandora's box, but I think it found me when I was finally ready to find it. Do you have a Pandora's box? If so, what's in it? What do you save and what do you keep, of both your kids items and your own personal items?

Oh, and by the way? Still haven't found my black sandals.


Dominique said...

Whao.. it must have brought back loads of memories when u re-discovered those old photos.
Regarding kids artwork/sch work I take photographs of them and file them online in their blog as a collage...so I am limited to digital clutter rather then physical clutter. :)

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marlynn said...

yeah, the photos were a kick! You know, I've had other moms tell me they take digital photos of their kids artwork too. It's a good idea!

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Melissa, Multi-Tasking Mama said...

I do have a box just like that (actually 2) one for times past and one of things I keep now. As a professional organizer I think it is important to keep things that are of sentimental value but to also limit those collections- the confines of a box gives me a limit so I really think hard about keeping something- Is it worth it's space in the box...Sometimes I keep something and then a few years later get rid of it because it no longer holds the same emotion for me as it did in the beginning. I think a "Pandora's" box is a great thing that every woman should have!

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gretablau said...

Aw. That pic of you and your dad is magical and your mom is beautiful! So are you, silly. I have a box for Seamus where I put things that I think will be fun for him to look at later.

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Laird Family Blog said...

Those are BEAUTIFUL photos! What a wonderful discovery. Remember the old SPT axiom that "Everything happens for a reason."

While moving, I went through my three tubs of pandora's box and found tapes from BJ II and my collection of Disney jewelry from PD. I respectfully said goodbye to both.

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