Before heading off to visit family today, I moved some of my things from Francesca the Fit into the new storage box on the patio. I can rarely touch boxes without peeking in them, and today was no exception. I have an old wooden jewelry box that doesn’t hold much jewelry, at least not of the ‘valuable’ kind. It holds the kind of things that, when touched, transport you to other times and places. A key chain made of those little square plastic beads that kids play with, that says “I luv you.” Some of the letters are nearly scratched away, the letter “I” gone entirely from the daily use of the key chain. A hand-made pin from another child’s vision, with a pink fake jewel in the middle. Horribly gauche fake gold earrings that I, heaven forbid, actually used to wear. Metal pins snagged from waiters and waitresses, a favored past time of mine – trying to wheedle pins from wait staff. I was very silly when young. A newspaper clipping of a poem I want read at my passing, now very yellowed with age. Yes, I thought of it even way back when, how I want to be remembered by those that I love. Costume jewelry that belonged to my Grandmother. Money from the other countries that I have visited. Pictures of my children when very, very young. The positive pregnancy test from my first-born, back when that little plastic square with a plus sign in it was nearly miraculous in our eyes. It was a short reverie, but a good one. I think of people who I hear about that have lost everything in a fire. Should we store those irreplaceable items in fireproof boxes? Memories are tied to physical things, scents, and music to me. To lose these small physical things would wrench my heart nearly clean out of my breastbone I think. They are the touchstones of our lives, these emotional trinkets, physical manifestations of that ephemeral, chimeric thing called love. I have lost a partner, a home, and way more valuable items than a plastic key chain – and survived it. But these little raggedy-edged mementos? I prefer not to think of the loss of those. When I had to sell my actual jewelry that had value in order to get a place of my own, things that were earmarked for my daughters, I talked with my oldest about it. Her words surprised me. She said, “Mom, I don’t want things that are a part of a past life, things you wore once in a while on a fancy night out. I’d prefer something that you wore regularly, like your Mother’s ring, or the gold inscribed commitment band that you wear on your right hand. Things that had meaning to you. Things that are important about you in my mind. ”
I guess they learn by what they see – that the things that really hold value may not show much to the world, but they reflect our world to us.
This excerpt from JohnCoyote’s recent poem “Liar’s Prayer” (found here: Liar’s prayer | johncoyote.) really struck me.