Thursday, July 16, 2009

Shoe Box Memories

Shoe boxes. You know, those cardboard containers that held a new pair of footwear. Dress shoes, runners or casual. It didn't really matter to me. Once the shoes were out of the box, it was the box that I hung onto. Some years ago, I developed a habit of tossing this and that into those boxes. When they were full, up into a closet they went. I know that some contain things that I emptied out of my pockets onto the entry shelf. Or clutter that built up on my desk and I wasn't sure I wanted to get rid of. So, into the boxes they went. Old scorecards, tees, golf balls, notes and Lord knows what other things you may find in some of the early ones. From time to time, I may be looking for something and think I may have dumped it in one of those boxes. I will haul a couple of them down for a look see and rummage through them hoping to find what it was I was searching for. Sometimes with luck, sometimes without.

After awhile, I started bringing home the boxes that printer paper comes in. I began storing books that I have read or others that were just cluttering up my space. Some of the boxes contained vacation memories. Where I went, postcards , itineraries, plane tickets and those tourist pamphlets. These too, found there way into a closet or storage cupboard. Subconsciously, I had a feeling I knew what I was doing. I was creating little time capsules of my life. Why I was, or rather am doing this, may or may not be a mystery. It is almost like I am telling stories of my life based on the contents of the box. What I was doing, where I was or people that passed through my life. It has become a comfortable habit which you may think a little strange. But to me, they are tidbits of my existence.

Of the three boxes that are shown at the top of this piece, the contents of the top box are shown above. This is the one box that never gets put away. There are some black and white memories of my mother. Her death certificate. Notes from the hotel where I was making funeral arrangements. If you look closely, you can see the odd picture of me taken when I was much younger and skinnier. Right on the top of the pile, a couple of memories from the first foster home we were guests at. There are no pictures from the second one. The tiny picture in the oval frame is the only baby picture I have of me. This photo was on my mother's bedside table in her apartment. There are some coloured Polaroids of the famous Christmas boot incident. Just a collection of odds and sods really of the early part of my life's journey. I don't know how I came to have this collection but I do know that they are one of a kind which is probably why I keep them close by.

For years I've gone places and done things without bothering to record the events. Relying on my memory. Whenever I did take pictures, the undeveloped films sat around until they could no longer be processed obliterating the memories. There are probably other undeveloped film in some of those buried boxes amongst other pieces of my past life. Who knows. In the past few years, I no longer take events of my life as trivial. Of course, it is a lot easier with a digital camera and now I rarely go anywhere without it. Whether or not I decide to through these boxes remains to be seen. It would probably be a smart thing to do at some point if only to satisfy my own curiosity. A sad thought runs through my mind as I think about the contents of those boxes though. Is that after I die, those who come in to clean out my home believe that those boxes contain nothing but junk and toss them out without giving them another thought.

A couple of weeks ago, I visited a blog called Poetic Painter who had written a poem sometime back. The poem was called Inside the Boxes and was written in memory of their Grandmother. This poem is well worth a read. This piece told me that I was not alone in the performance of this unusual practice. Now I feel just a little less weird. Oh joy!


Rob-bear said...

"Just a collection of odds and sods really of the early part of my life's journey."

A personal time capsule.

I hope that those who clean up after you're gone will have the time to reflect on what's in those boxes.

Lori ann said...

Dear Bogey,

I love the idea of shoe~box memories. I think what you are doing is a brilliant way to keep all those bits of life contained, organized even!
I had that same thought once, what if my journals and memory keepsakes are discarded? And then I thought, it's okay. I can only hope that isn't the case, but if so there isn't anything I can do about it. I keep these things for me, because I love to. And I guess that is all that really matters, that you love it. All your shoe box memories.
That tiny little oval photo is precious.
Thank you for sharing this post.

☺ lori

Michelle said...

Nothing wrong with a little weirdness :)

It's a lovely thing....I just have these pockets of chaos that might or might not be memories ......and regret it a little too.


Ai Shiang said...

Those shoes boxes are so useful. I used to put photos inside too. Having said that, it's good these days that i don't need to accumulate those boxes anymore. everything is in digital.

Amel's Realm said...

What a lovely collection! Unfortunately I couldn't bring all the photos with me when I moved to Finland. I had to leave many behind 'coz I could only take 27 kgs of my life with me. But I'm going to take more tidbits with me later on when I visit Indo again...bit by bit...

I LOVE looking at old pics and reliving the memories (well, esp. the good memories)...

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing this post. I love that you have saved and preserved memories in the way you have. It is my belief that reflecting on old pictures, keepsakes, etc, provides an opportunity to recall love, learn to forgive, overcome past angers, re-shape how we view our lifes path. And life is not about regrets. Life is about enjoying the moment, because the moments are so limited. Therefore, Mr Bogey, I want you to get your lovely self down to that Jazz festival, take oodles of pictues, relax and enjoy the music and the people around you. Then come back and post pictures and your stories. No one is going to toss out your virtual treasure box!

James said...

The night before last I went through my old picture boxes and had similar thoughts. We don't have any children to pass our shoe box memories to.
It was sort of a lonely moment.
I also wondered how and when I went from the stud in the 20yr old photos to a ......nevermind. lol
Have a great weekend and make the memories that you want to keep.

ms toast burner said...

I have a few shoe boxes too, Bogey and I've had similar 'what will happen to them when I croak' thoughts. I've thought about this a lot lately and more so since I first read your post last night. It got me thinking.

I think I'm going to try to find a nice wooden box... something decorative, something that I really like. Then I'm going to go through my shoe boxes, do a bit of a cull (mine boxes include stuff that I'm no long attached to) and put all the bits and pieces that I really treasure in this box. It will be obvious that what it contains is important to me and not to be tossed out... perhaps I will mention in my will who will get what from it and what should be done with the rest.

Very thought provoking post, Bogey. Thanks.

Bogey said...

Even for a couple of minutes would be nice Rob Bear, even for a couple of minutes.

Lori, the idea of the shoeboxes came about by accident more than anything. It was only after some time passed by when I saw a pattern. Believe me Lori, I have no doubt after your time here on earth is done, your memeory's will become your children's treasures. Of this I am sure. Thank you for your kind always.

Michelle, I will try and keep it to just a little weirdness. As for regrets, I've got boxes full of those. There are some which may be salvageable while others beyond hope. Chaos or not, they are all memories. Maybe a kick-ass bonfire is in order for those eh! You can light it.

I definitely like keep everything digital Ai-Shiang. Easier to keep track of and easier to discard to!

Amel, I hope you have the opportunity to go home and pick up more of your keepsakes. One day you will have children to pass them onto.

Audrey, some moments are memorable while others just tend to bring up more questions which I will never get answers for. Just doing what I can I guess. As for the Jazz festival, was there to see the opening last night and will be going again soon. I also heard there is a Rib Fest nearby. Dinner and music. Sweet! And yes, I will try and get some good pics.

You are right about the lonely moments James. I've felt those too. Weren't we all buff at one point in our lives. Did you see how freaking skinny I was. Scary!

I think we traded off on thought provoking posts MTB. "Croak", is an appropiate word, I guess. Like your idea of the nice wooden box. Except for me, one of my clown friends would probably think I want to take it with me to the here-after and dump it in my box with me. Hmm! Maybe I should leave instructions. Hope all this thinking hasn't been causing you too much grief.

Hilary said...

I think everyone has their boxes.. even if it's actually a drawer... or several. Lovely that you've kept those special parts of your life. It's how we stay connected to our past.. in part, anyway.

lakeviewer said...

Useful as time capsules.
Write down your memories before they too fade away. Better yet, scan and save your pictures with the stories as well.

Bogey said...

Hilary, sometimes the boxes are bittersweet memories. Regardless, all worth keeping I suppose. Thank you for your continuing patronage. Always a pleasure.

Rosaria, I kind of think that is what I am doing albeit from different perspectives and formats. There are so many more things that I must purge but I think I have become a little cautious of late. All in good time I think. Thank you for stopping by.

Poetic Painter said...

Thanks for posting the link to my page. Hopefully what you learned from my poem was that I may not have really understood the boxes when I was younger, but my family and I treasured the bonding experience of learning about our past as we went through them. I'm sure your boxes will be treasured one day, as well.

Winifred said...

I enjoyed this post.

Well at least your stuff is tidy. Mine is all over the place, believe me. Drawers, cupboards, cases, boxes, the loft.

My daughter dreads having to clear it when I've popped my clogs there's so much. Maybe I should start now.