Pandora's Box

I've always been one to collect things from the people I care about. I suppose because things were never concrete in my youth. Relationships could be fleeting since we moved so often. So as I grew, so did my collections...first it would be a box that held things from my friends. All of my friends from the time I made the box until the next stage. This box would have trinkets...a beaded necklace from playing dressup. The box from the barbie doll she got me for my birthday. Little notes we'd pass in elementary school. A candy wrapper. Just little tidbits that said someone, somewhere thought I was worthwhile and enjoyed my company. 

As I got older, the boxes would be a sort of time capsule for that year of my life. High school. Ticket stubs from movies or concerts. Programs from things we'd go see. Pictures. Notes. Whatever I could save.

The boyfriends that mattered got their own boxes. Everything I had from them went into a shoebox.

Now, I have a marriage. It's over. It's a twelve-year relationship. I thought the "box" was my home. Everywhere there are memories. I've been settled here. We were together forever and there was no need for a box. Our trinkets are in my closet, in my jewelry box, on the kitchen counter....two lives melded together seamlessly. No way to tell mine from yours.


At first, this was therapeutic as well as sad. Pulling out the things that were his. I was so busy, I didn't have the time to think about it. So now I'm down to my last closet. Everything else inside the house is done. And then,  I found the box.

It's cedar. There are leather straps for hinges and a mirror wtih a frame that he built. His grandfather loved working with cedar. And left a wood shop behind when he died. He liked to do things the "old" way. And my former Mr. loved him for it. This box was a work of love. The way that the former Mr. could show it. He was sharing something intimate and close to his heart with me. His grandfather that shaped him as a child, and that he lost way too young. So the box was meant for jewelry, but somewhere along the way, it became my box of memories.

Inside, there is the envelope that holds ten dollars of the fifty was my prize in the first photgraphy contest I ever entered. A guitar pick. A tearstained letter  from my father to me, written when I was six years old and his divorce from my mother and the separation from me was still a very fresh pain. And so many other things. So many reminders of the time when I was happily married. Pandora's box, bringing up all the memories and the sadness that this is no more. A testament to the time when HE loved me. When he was able to show it. When there wasn't so much water under the bridge. When we were young and life had yet to change us. It was pure and innocent love, untainted by our flaws.

I'm blessed and cursed with a very good memory. And the need to hold on to what's great. Or what once was great. That little box makes me mourn for something that once was. It's like a tiny casket for my young married life. And now, it's back on the shelf, because I have no idea what to do with it.
onceandfutureglow onceandfutureglow
31-35, F
58 Responses Mar 2, 2011

Wow... variations on a theme... except this is from a couple years ago now... maybe its gotten better... I have to pack up a house - sell stuff - whatever... and there are young kids to boot... although I have 50/50 (fought for it) and pay according to what is asked - still not good enough... the memory yeah... details.... expect too much consistency... but thanks for putting it all down... makes me think I'm not the only one... they say you are never alone but it seems I am in a sense...

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So well written. Healing comes, I think, when we can pick and choose the keepsakes around us, rather than hoard them long secure. Sometimes it is hard to make a choice to keep our memories inside, rather than house them in inanimate objects that we blanket and box with our emotions.


wow but my daughter is learning about Greek mythology and she said "she also let out hope" and I'm like LOL!!!

My wife left me when I turned my back on her to work on a model railroad computer layout program. Her heart popped apart. I did CPR, I called 911, there was nothing that could have been done to save her because everything was tried.

Because my son was 13 months old I kept a lot of memories. Its been twenty plus years, I still have many of them, but also many new and good experiences. Boxing up the clothes - the possessions - that builds a memory base, and yes, it brings a smile to your face and a pang to your heart. But what else is life for?

I met a girl of 15 when I was 17. I married her when she was 21 and I had finished my military obligation. We were together 45 years when 2 strokes took her away.
For two years now I have lived inside of my "memory box". I am now 70, and all my friends are gone, they all loved her. She and I were inseparable.
I have been keeping a journal for maybe 30 years, and i have hundreds of photos, many of them digitized from the old prints we had. I never knew how lonely life could be. I have medical problems she would help me with, but now its over.
I write this to help you have perspective. Look at yourself. Look at your health. There may be some happiness in your future. Think about it.

I forgot to mention that I found it very inspirational, it inspired me to go do some cleaning as well

This is such a great story, thanks for sharing!

Thanks for the lovely story... Today I was considering getting rid of some my boxes of memories, but this story changed my mind.

Sounds a lot like me. Are you a cancer by chance? Just wondering. Great story. I enjoyed reading it. Sorry for the loss in your marriage. Take care.

Wow. Captivating story... thought-provoking. Tragic, yet sincere... I respect sincerity and vulnerability. That takes strength.
I'm sorry to hear that former Mr. didn't pull through with his vows. If only we could sense this more before we dive in the deep end. It takes courage to go through memories that were once so beautiful, founded by promises. Yet, after awhile, the beauty starts to fade because the foundations prove to be faulty. A lack of purpose, a lack of willpower, a lack of clarity. Losing the hope that's always there, yet not seeing it, not holding on... justifying it... but despite various mistakes, you still faced the past, however painful. That's meaningful.
Things were not concrete in my youth either, this is probably why I'm so nostalgic and I like to document things. I also like looking at old memories with a fresh perspective. It seems that my conscious mind naturally tends to block out far too many memories, as if two-thirds of my life have been one, on-going wound. So, I keep things that hurt and look at them later when I'm stronger and wiser.
I think we must remember, despite our discomfort, that there is truly no thing as "cutting ties." We are all very connected. Though shared experiences with people may be in the past, the past is no less real simply because looking at it feels painful. The past does not disappear in whatever present we are in, though we may choose to think this is true to cope. But, if it's painful, that means we haven't found the way to heal from them yet... and we need to. We can't simply close chapters of our lives that still hurt. It must be resolved, it can be resolved. We must face the negative with positivity and wisdom. Closing chapters of our lives in the right way does not mean we forget or ignore it, it means that we can look back, gain wisdom, and be grateful for what good those experiences brought.
The worst part about pain isn't the pain itself. The worst part about pain is the message it brings.
The message starts to deceive us into thinking that we are not worth fighting for, pain will always be with us, people will always leave us... etc.

Emily Dickinson wrote:
"[Pain] has no future but itself,
Its infinite realms contain
Its past, enlightened to perceive
New periods of pain."

We must choose to discard that message, and find the truth.

A very nice story indeed.I love the way you've written it,the idea of having a box for memories,the title.Everything about the story is awesome.Are you a professional writer?I am sorry for the divorce and for commenting so late.

I sometimes wish I had mementoes of happy times: The things that would remind me that once I had a happier life...those happy moments are few and far between though, interspersed with turbulence and depression...still the trinkets from pleasant times when I felt loved and appreciated would be nice...I think

I write diary too,but I try to not to read it ,because it may make me feel sad ,but I still writ it down , i know some time i will feel lucky to have all these ,and thank you for share your story ,i feel the same way with you ,we should move on ,we should let go ,start a new life ,but memory has no fault ,i will keep it .

Your story reminded me of my own bag of memories.

Ah. I think we all have them...stashed away somewhere. I hope I'm not the only one surprised by the emotions they hold along with the junk. : )

I'm sorry. i used to collect things from my friends in the past, like drawings they made for out of love and all this crap. I just recently decided that I had to let go. Those are gone and I dont want to see or think about them. I hate it, makes me sad. My life is different now. I thought I would be great friends with everyone but now, I'm alone. Its better without all those things. It was hard to throw it out since I kept all that stuff for over 5 years and looking at it quite frequently. But all it did was make me sad, no happiness. I know its nothing compared to your story, but I wanted to share this as well, thanks for the story and I really hope things go good for you.

Thank you : )

Beautiful story.

Thank you all for the lovely comments...It means a lot that my experience touches so many...

Good or bad, the memories will always remain within us. They make us what we are. Even if I get rid of my "box", i can't cut the memories from my heart or my mind!

You are a true human being. We must move on, but we need the past to remind us of what held us back and what might propel us forward. Life is the living and collecting of memories so we can evaluate ourselves in our later years.

Very beautifully written indeed! I read your story shortly after finding my own Pandora's Box. It was sitting in a storage shed for 33 years. I'm wondering if I shouldn't have kept it shut. Mine contained happy memories though :) ! The only sad part is the knowledge that my high-school love, and first love, of 35 years ago, has probably departed this Earth :( . I recceived a phone call from her daughter in 1994, informing me that she had been living with ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease) for the past 5 years. The disease was progressing at an alarming rate. The joy of hearing from my first love was instantly replaced with a heart- crushing pain! <br />
Even though I am now happily married to the most wonderful woman in the world, there is an incurable aching in my heart! I finally realized that I never got the chance to say goodbye...

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Deeply, deeply touching. I too have very few keepsakes. I'm naive that way, I suppose; I live very much in the now, and just take for granted that things will last, just as the sun will rise tomorrow. Keepsakes seem superfluous, somehow. The oldest of them, a few polished pebbles from a beach where I played as a child, are the dearest and most clearly remembered; the sound these tiny pebbles in their tens of thousands would make with the advance and retreat of the surf, is unique and utterly unforgettable to me. To my distress, the more recent the keepsakes become, the less I remember about them; several are completely anonymous to me, though they obviously meant something to me at the time. Advancing age and retreating memory aren't a help, either. Just treasure the memories, while they remain; let go the hurtful ones, and embrace the warm, the funny, the touching ones. Sadly, you don't miss what you can't remember.

I am a packrat and have 2 many boxes lol. I'm learning 2 let the memories go. Alot of my memories are painful ones. I'm getting older and I don't want to live in the past anymore. You have the right to your memories. The past is Always a part of us.

This is so well written! I have never thought of it this way although I have a similar habit; I hold on to things because of what they once meant but which they no longer mean. I always thought it's due to me being a little too sentimental. What I found to be true is the part where you talked about its origin - from your childhood. I have to explore that about me because I think my childhood must have much to do with it. I am divorced as well. On our separation, I had barely left our marital home before my ex "violently took down" all our memorabilia including wedding pictures, etc and she tore them. She destroyed all of them. She removed my mother's portrait and put it in the attic until my 6yr old daughter went to the attic to fish it out and brought it for me. I was very hurt by it. Infact, months before our separation she went to the bank and closed our joint checking account. I was mad as hell about it, I guess because that joint checking account was one of the big symbols of our union to me (in terms of "things" not children). So, later when she filed for divorce, I accepted it because to me even if we reconciled there was nothing we were reconciling to. And, I think she was angry because I did not subject myself to the pain of letting her humiliate me. So, yes, you are not alone. And, I agree, sometimes I wish I never had that quality myself. But, I cannot help it.

MY whole house is a box of memories. I lost my Husband a few years ago, and even though I gave his clothes to Goodwill, I couldn't part with his ties. Just remembering how much he loved wearing them and then the special ones he'd wear at Christmas. I keep saying I am going to make a special quilt with them, as soon as I get the time and figure out how. That way, I will always have a part of him. Whether we lose a loved one from death, or divorce ,or simply just parting of ways, I believe we all need to hold on to something. A memory, memento, just something to take us back to the good moments we shared with them. That is a part of our lives and what makes us who we are.

wonderful story!

What a load of rubbish

What a load of old rubbish!

This story is truly touching! I wish you much happiness always.

is it me? or is it the fate of every women? is it because im not yet married that i feel that every wife will face moments where her marriage will become cold but she is still able to make it lovely again? or is it that no one can change it?<br />
<br />
personally i advice u to live every moment,, instead of crying and feeling bad about ur past memories, why dont u correct ur present marriage, have some love and make it alive again by romance.......have hope my sis, WHEN THERE IS A WILL , THERE IS A WAY my dear :)

This was a beautifully written piece. Very poignant and honest. I could relate very well to your feelings and this very vulnerable period of time you have to bear now. I had your same experience when my marriage ended 6 years ago. I remember coming in our old house for the first time after I knew the marriage was over. I remember looking at our family photos on the walls, the kitchen and dishes (all the happy dinners), the new beautiful tapestry sofa and loveseat we had just purchased a few weeks prior, and all the special things displayed in our glass china cabinet. My late father's urn with his ashes( I had just lost him the year prior), the dogcollars from our dearly departed pets, the top to our wedding cake from 14 years in the past, the sterling baby cups received as gifts when our daughter was born. It had a most surreal feel to it. I actually got physically sick.....I vomitted. I was in such emotional pain. Here was OUR LIFE, a life I thought I knew, our FAMILY HOME......what kind of monster has come and betrayed our trust and now is taking our innocence away?? I was shot through the heart. He moved out a few months later.

))) i also have a little box. and music, associated with ppl. ) great)

really sweet :)

I opened the boxes that my ex-girlfriend gave me... The message she wrote in there were sweet and romantic, but it's really hard to look at it while I'm trying to get over this. I'm thinking of throwing it away...

that was sad and inspiring in a sense a bit

Thank you very much for sharing your stories. I have a single box... It contains pictures of the first woman I had a long-term relationship with. We broke up on good terms but it still hurts to see those photos and remember the wonderful times and the mistakes I now see with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight. <br />
<br />
I debated whether to shred them, but instead I put them in a box and placed it in a closet. It gives me a strange kind of comfort(?) knowing the box is there while giving me the motivation to move on and not dwell on the contents in my Pandora's Box.

Ds was b'ful...i had my boxes too...with my ex...every little thing he gave me..every movie tkt..candy wrappers...even the metro and busrides...all went into dozens of little boxes...but guess what? i nw know they dnt really matter...<br />
we broke up after suffering a bittermost relationship in which the only things that remained intact were those trinkets...we had already torn each other to pieces...<br />
n nw i am almost married to the most wonderful man in the universe..i say ‘almost’ cz we only lack the legal touch to it...there are no ‘boxes’ to keep the memories’s all inside me...i cn rattle off every moment since the first time i set my eyes upon him...trinkets are just materials nw....he resides within me with all the memories of all the wonderful times we had and will keep having..a part of me that will forever be there..<br />
the other boxes are no longer with me...there’s just no space...every inch of my life has been filled up with Ronee...yeah that’s my guy...n i dnt need boxes anymore...i no longer need smthn material to hold on to our memories...we recount them together...<br />
Yes... my world with him is in itself a Pandora’s Box...

I loved your story. It made me cry. It's so nice you held on to those things. Sweet memories. That's how you cope. You will open it again, and cry again, but you will feel less sad as time goes by. You grieve, then move on. It's always in your heart. Don't push it away. Deal with it as you can. I think enduser13 had the perfect words for it. It's a shrine. A shrine to all the love and happiness you felt.<br />
It will come for you again. A new box.

Sadly I cannot relate. I keep extremely few keepsakes, let alone grant them each a box for their memories.<br />
Worse, I lose my memory of everything quickly and am left with almost nothing but fleeting scenes of past partners.<br />
<br />
I wouldn't tell you your memory is a curse or gift. Just that hopefully you have more good memories to keep than bad and that you don't know the hell of never being able to hold onto the good ones at all.

Yes, always get it. I never know what to do with the "things". They are a part of me, but not, anymore. Everything symbolic of something bigger. Like your watches. What do I do with my wedding rings? What do I do with his old wedding band? He got a new one a few years ago because the old one was too small for him, and was nothing fancy...we were so young...but now I have the three rings in another, smaller box in the drawer where my jewelry is. <br />
<br />
Datura - I am halfway there. It's been a long road and I did a lot of mourning during the last year that he was home. Friendship sort of peeks in around the doorway, but there is still so much that is fresh in this. I want to smile at the memories. One day, I suppose. When more time has passed, and we are happy with our new lives...

I really like this beautiful story, Glowie. It's good to be able to mourn for what was lost, because it started as a beautiful dream of happily-ever-after and there were good times and good memories. It's much better and healthier to be able to do that than to focus solely on the unpleasantness at the end.


Aww. I like silly sentimental mushbuckets. I am one too. : )

*curtsies*<br />
<br />
Thank you...: ) That's what I was trying to say. They make life rich...and full. The scenes that will pass before our eyes in the moments before death. I was loved. I lost. I was loved again. I knew these things and these people. And they made me who I am....bittersweet things...

poignant.<br />
<br />
memories can be like that. even "good" memories -- memories of good times can be sad becasue they are in the past. and yet, it is those good memories that make life so rich, wonderful.<br />
<br />
thank you for sharing this well written story.

*hands Des a tissue* <br />
<br />
*feels bad for bringing on the frowny face*

I dunno. I look at it differently, I guess. It's a little sad, I guess. But I had the memories. I had the good times. It's just no fun being startled with them. These things should be opened along with a good bottle of wine.

Not sad, Sweets. Just an observation.

Thanks, Billy. I suppose everyone has boxes of a sort. We just have to gather the courage to open them.