My Life in a Box

First there was my random assortment of plastic necklaces from the 80’s that I had adored before I was in school. I would never wear any of these necklaces, and haven’t since Kindergarten, but they brought back memories of shopping with my mother at the Bon Marche and coming home with a bag of work clothes for her and one plastic pastel necklace for me. After much indecision, the necklaces went into my “To Ebay or Throw Away” pile on the bed.

I like to call the transition from my current apartment to my future apartment The Great Move. I’ve given it this name not because it’s the first move I’ve ever made, nor because it’s the last, but because it’s the first move where I have to downsize all of my possessions. Most of my friends haven’t had to experience this yet as they are on good terms with their parents and can keep their unneeded but wanted belongings in their old rooms. I, however, am not on good terms with my father and accordingly was forced to either move every last possession of mine or suffer having him throw them away. I choose to take everything that I owned when I first moved into my current apartment, including the 13+ giant tubs of beanie babies that consist of my inheritance. Now that Tyler and I have found the most perfect of perfect apartments to live in, which so happens to be only 505 square feet (our current place is about 700), I am forced to analyze the volume of all my possessions and try to decide what to keep and what not to keep.

Then there were the micro machines and die cast cars. These brought memories of pushing them on the kitchen floor in an attempt to see how fast and far they could go before our terrier (or terror) mutt attacked them. Since they were small and wouldn’t consume much space, I placed the mirco machines and my first ever die cast car (a silver DeLorean with doors that can be opened or closed) into my new and much smaller memory box. The remaining cars went into a paper box full of small toys that I am going to try and give away to trick-or-treaters this upcoming Halloween.

Because of the 13+ giant tubs of beanie babies, downsizing all of my possessions is a ghastly task. I did what I would in most circumstances- I tried to prep myself for the work by starting with the simplest task first. The simplest thing to downsize just so happened to be what I call my memory box. I used one of those plastic under the bed containers and filled it with random bits of junk from my childhood on through my last days of high school. It also ended up containing a couple of items from my mother that I inherited when she died. Most of the contents wouldn’t be bought on Ebay, which in my mind means they’re completely useless junk. However, when I opened up the contents of the box and dumped them onto the bed, I soon remembered the reason why each item had made its way into my memory box in the first place.

Items that might be considered important- such as my high school diploma- went into the new memory box next, with the cars filling in the wasted space of plastic groves beneath. A bag of marbles I had loved, tapes from past orchestra concerts and collectable coins given as gifts took up the rest of the space, leaving a little left for the odd assortment of pig and westie figurines I had bought my mother for one gift-giving occasion or another. My mother’s old glasses, random key chains, and other junk that had indifferent memories attached went into the “To Ebay or Throw Away” pile.

After I had sorted all the contents of the former memory box into their various destinations, I carefully examined the contents of my new memory box and found myself satisfied. I then decided to throw out the items that didn’t make it into the box or find another useful purpose. While collecting the random trinkets and junk into an old grocery bag, I found myself wondering how it was possible to attach so many memories to inanimate objects. Because each item I had kept, no matter how small and useless, had a pleasant memory attached to it, I soon realized that the contents of my box were not junk but physical memories.

A memory, whether physical or mental, is a hard thing to throw away.


  1. This sounds difficult. I've had to shave away at my possessions over the years, too…having gone from a three-bedroom house to a studio apartment.

  2. mysterious j says:

    i know how you feel.