Tucked away at the back of my mirrored wardrobe is a sturdy green shoebox. Inside is my life – or at least a record of my life, from love-crazed teenage diaries to funny little mementoes I’ve kept from overseas trips.
Every now and then I’ll drag the shoebox out and laugh at the strange things I wrote and believed at 12, 15, 19 and so on; the teachers I hated at school, the indecision over which of the Bros twins I loved the most and the silly squabbles with my dearly beloved sibling.
In the middle of the dog-eared exercise books, is also a grubby cinema ticket to see Rocky, a little ziplock bag with sand in it (more on this shortly), stuff from more recent times, a love letter, newspaper cuttings…it’s my box of life.
Looking through it tonight and reading all those diaries had me in laughing and remembering all over again. I’d written a sliding scale of ‘boys I fancied’ and given them each a grade…there was a list of how I’d spent the money from my first Saturday job pay (all £10.02 of it) and a lot of gushing about a skinny actor from a very cheezy film called, ‘Pretty in Pink’ – Andrew Macarthy.
The sand in the ziplock bag? Taken from a beach in Anglesey, after a youth group holiday. I stood on that beach with a chap I believed I was in love with and to remember the moment, I put a handful of sand in my pocket and later transferred it to the bag. And yes, I STILL have it. The in-lovededness with the man didn’t last quite as long.
The Rocky cinema ticket was from my first proper grown-up date. I still remember what I wore and how deeply uncomfortable I was at being the subject of this guy’s attention. He wanted to marry me – told me that on our 3rd date. There wasn’t a fourth.
The love letter and the newspaper cuttings are from more recent times. I keep this stuff because when I look through it, I remember all those feelings all over again. Sometimes, if I close my eyes, I can almost taste the salty air in Anglesey or feel the scratchiness of that horrible cream skirt I wore to see Rocky.
Remembering is good. Some of the box’s memories make me really sad; the death of a good friend when I was 21, the pain of heartache, but there’s also the GREAT; the euphoria of being offered a job I really wanted, a first kiss and oh, it was Matt from Bros. I fancied him the most.
I love my memory box. It reminds me of good stuff and of God’s faithfulness through the bad times.
As the year draws to a close, for all its loveliness and its awfulness, my memory box reminds me that I have much to be grateful for.