the laid.back Buddhist has MOVED...back!

Tuesday, August 7

The Shoebox Syndrome

I'm sentimental. I'll keepsake. And, I'm no exception.

Culture will always influence me, but I do wonder... Perhaps certain clichés come about because of some fixed basic human nature? I mean, of all things to keep reminders in, haven't I too succumbed to the timeless allure of putting things away in The Shoebox?

Everyday, it sits there in the same old corner. On top of my childhood dresser. And, right below my bookshelves, which are these two wooden slabs spanning across the entire width of one wall. So that every morning when I fish around in my drawers for a t-shirt and every night when I peruse my wooden shelves for some bedtime reading, my peripheral vision catches it.

It's gotta be a bad sign I'm starting damn that corner, isn't it? I'm always tempted to throw shoebox out.

Fuck sentimentality. Even without it twenty years later, I'll still be a romantic! ...right?

Yet, whenever I've half a mind to follow through on such a threat, I'll open the shoebox to look at each item...because, you know, it is the last time. Not surprisingly, it's not long before I realize that I can't bring myself to toss it. Not yet, I'd say, not quite yet. So, I shut the lid to the shoebox and once again return it to its damned corner.

Did you know? I used to just apathetically accept the shoebox as a clichéd tradition of sorts. Then my own experience caused me to recognize its...usefulness. On the outside, the ordinary look of a scruffed-up shoebox belies the once significant (okay, still meaningul) pieces held within. While on inside, why it's crazy how every thing (except a poster he painted with a special note on the back) manages to fit! Memories that I don't want to replay yet don't want to lose.

If you're like me--that is, a fellow inmate to the human nature of relentless curiosity--then, you might be wondering what's in this shoebox...

Well, there's the two postcards from Europe, his letter (on a notepad I had bought him as a joke because of the header's punchline, "INDECISION IS THE KEY TO FLEXIBILITY") that accompanied the first and only time he gave me flowers, and his even longer letter (also using the same notepad) that explained his bag of parting gifts: Haribo Goldbӓren (German gummi bears I love), a jar of Nutella, his old carabiner (he rockclimbs), a piece of string (because of the time I made him play Cat's Cradle with me, lols), Huggies wipes (for hugs), whey protein (he's not the only one who likes to tease how my arm muscles are non-existent), Hershey kissables (for kisses), and a bubble set (he calls me Bubbles).

Yep, all those things, even the bag and tissue paper they came in, are in the shoebox.

I also put in a pair of sunglasses he chose for me and his sleeveless shirt I borrowed for rockclimbing the last time we saw each other. He called the next day to say that it made him very happy to realize that I had 'stolen' his shirt. He mentioned how it was getting too small for him anyways, so I probably won't be able to convince him to take it back come Spring. For the record, I honestly forgot his shirt was still in my tote bag. Of course, he doesn't believe me and insists I stole it, haha! Oh, boy.

Granted, this shoebox only contains a portion of memories, but I think because there's a tangible representation, a physical presence...it's a lot harder than deleting voicemail and previous text messages. I keep our emails and old AIM logs, but have them moved to a separate folder on my computer. I figured, at least if it's out of sight...it'll be out of mind?

But these aren't the issues I have with the Shoebox. My problem is what my Shoebox Syndrome represents, which is saving the past. Saving = holding on + not letting go = not moving forward = bad*.

So, I've come to the same conclusion of no solution. Which means I'm waiting some more before coming to a decision.

Either way, I know there will come a time when I won't keep a box specifically for memories of him. Just as I know that whatever I decide, I'll be keeping the handwritten letters/postcards at least...BUT they'll be kept with a collection of handwritten stuff from other friends as well.
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*for all the advanced math I've taken, I always did enjoy writing proofs the most.

4 Musing(s):

bartlebee said...

hey there Joanne, it appears you have designed a very effective template to navigate through those tough transitional times so many of us go through. You've been an inspiration to me and many other readers I am sure. It's been quite a ride for you and I appreciate you sharing it here with your readers. Wishing you a peaceful journey...

Lewis Empire said...

Over the years I have moved from shoe box to banker's box to a rubbermaid container. I think that in a world where almost everything is disposable, it's not a bad sign to keep some things that are important to you.

In fact, I still have the original box that some of the most unique things are in. It's now inside a fire-proof box under lock and key!

Joanne said...

Exactly--I try to wait at least a year before I make the final decision to keep or discard certain things...this rule of thumb applies to my personal belongings as well.

brookem said...

oh lord, the shoebox. ive spent many a moment in the throws of going through the shoebox (although for me it's a bag). i kept it at the end of my bed, finally moved it to the basement, and now i have it in the trunk of my car. im not sure why i put it there, i think i just needed it out of the house finally. so i hear you on this one, totally.


IF YOU'RE GOING THROUGH HELL, KEEP GOING.
Winston Churchill