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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 61 Responses Mar 2, 2011

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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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