My box addiction survived downsizing. I have no shame. I realize there might be a twelve-step program for this problem but I think I’ll pass.
My mother’s milk glass button box sits in front of me as I write, beside her square china coffee canister with the home-made wooden lid and glass knob. I don’t know if she found it lidless in a junk store. Perhaps one of us kids broke the original lid. I can that tell my father crafted the substitute because it has no varnish. He loathed executing that last step of any woodworking project.
On the edge of my desk, a plastic box holds a strange assortment of trinkets: A heart on which some teacher penned my son’s name; a ribbon over which his Boy Scout metals dance; my mother’s gold thimble; a button announcing “It’s a Boy”. I hesitate to rummage deeper; I don’t know what reminders might lurk beneath that first layer. This box measures six inches square, two deep, and has a thick covering of dust on its surface. A long-ago lover gave it to me, right after he read a poem he had written in which he likened me to a spider.
This evening I hauled a red wooden box full of random photos up the stairs to my writing loft. It now sits beside my sewing box. I sorted through the photographs one lonely evening this winter. My tears fell on the fading portraits of people whom I long to see.
I could continue:
The porcelain box that Alan made when he worked for the potter who just wanted everyone to say, “Thank you.”
The two Japanese puzzle boxes (one large, one small) from my client Hidemi. She gave these to me before she traveled home, secure in her ability to return because of a provision which I had fought to include in her divorce judgment ensuring her continued permanent status. I often think about Hidemi. Is Japan on the banned list? Can she still re-enter America? I’d like to drink tea with her again.
A cardboard box bearing a slogan encouraging me to share my sparkle occupies a space under the printer stand. I don’t have a use for that one,, but it’s a box, isn’t it? and my sister Joyce wrapped my garden stone in it.
Let us not forget the music boxes, the box holding my makeshift first-aid kit, and the two jewelry boxes (one brass, one silver) inside the old sewing machine drawers. I keep my most precious items in those, like the filigree butterfly from Brenda Dingley and the Virgin Mary medal that Tricia Scaglia gave me for Christmas, my last year in Kansas City. I know you aren’t a practicing Catholic, she told me, as I held the delicate disk to the light. But I wanted you to have this anyway. Take it, will you, as a favor to me.
It’s still in its tiny cardboard box, with the card from the maker, and a whisper or two of memory.
I’ve given away a lot of boxes. I gave a wooden box to a little girl who lives with her parents in the park. It’ once held a necklace that somebody chose for me. I kept that box for twenty-three years before deciding that five-year-old Ella might like it. The other day, she said, “What is your name anyway, lady?” I told her. She studied my face for a few minutes before announcing that I was the lady who had given her the treasure box for Christmas.
I admitted as much. She smiled. “I keep treasures in it,” she explained, just in case I might not have understood. But I did, all too well. I have a few of those myself.
It’s the sixth day of the sixty-fifth month of My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.