I have always been a sentimental girl, but in my own way. I don’t really collect things, trinkets or terribly personal items as a habit, but there’s this little girl in me that holds on to memories and words with a death grip. You see, my grandfather would always tell me that you were as good as your word and since I can never remember him even remotely fabricating even the tiniest lie, his word was gold.
Now I have always had a flair for story telling and embellishing obvious details for dramatic effect. For example “Oh my gosh Mom! Mom! You should have seen it, there were like 5 million bees and they were everywhere!!!” The reality version of that would have read something like this. “There were 5 bees gathered on the window of the car”
Clearly it is far more interesting to hear about 5 million bees as opposed to 5 but the crux of the story was always factual. So I assumed because the role models in my life were so forthcoming and honest that everyone’s word was equally weighted. So when someone told me something I felt was poignant I held fast to those words and I associated whatever memory came with them and would usually mark the moment with a scrap of something to commemorate the experience. I don’t even recall if as a child I ever revisited these things as my childhood and adolescence was never one I would want to go back to.
So where exactly is this going?
Well I came across a very small box, about the size of a good novel. It is a “falsie”. In fact, it’s designed to look like a book but instead of housing words, it holds memories that I associated with words. Specifically the words that either directly or indirectly implied “I love you”
I love you.
It took my breath. I had forgotten about this book. I had forgotten these memories. More importantly, I forgot that there was a time when someone cared enough about me to say the words “I love you” and that I actually believed it enough to store that memory somewhere.
I should mention that I have terrible short term memory from the numerous bouts of anesthesia, medication and illness. So stumbling across this sentimental treasure was a little like opening Pandora’s box. Immediate tears sprung to my eyes and I struggled to envision what word I would use to describe the feeling I had in that moment. I was deeply sad. Wholly sad.
I picked through the scraps of papers, looked intently at the dates printed on movie stubs and the names that appeared on hotel keys and tears streamed down my face in abundance. I made myself a pot of coffee, turned on my favorite tortured soul music and sat where I am sitting now, trying to make sense of the things that represented a time when someone supposedly loved me. And then the rabbit hole opened up underneath me and I started that decent and welcomed the darkness…
Because isn’t that what I am after all? Darkness.
I pep talk myself just like the rest of you. I tell myself I am strong and confident and worthy of love. I try to put out into the universe exactly what I want to get back and I say over and over again “trust the process, trust the process”…
and I fade to black, because this little box of memories is proof that the process has failed me time and time again. These memories represent a heart that I willingly and purposefully gave with everything in my being to express MY love for another and that time after time, it was returned.
And I want to believe the hype. I want to believe that when I least expect it love will come walking through my door…but I can’t help but wonder what about me is so returnable. Why nothing sticks, why people have been walking away from me my whole life without so much as a glance backwards.
My demons have teeth. They sink and gnaw into flesh scared with beatings. My skin has memory of hands to flesh, of broken spirit, of tiny running legs struggling to get away, of crouching in closets and hiding under beds, of feeling like a disposable thing, an object of explosive entertainment, of use and finally forgotten.
The war in my mind wages heavy. I have never been loved enough not to be forgotten. No one has ever chose to stay. The message I have gotten over and over again is that I am good enough…for now, but not for the long haul.
So I stare at this box and it’s contents and I carry it with me into the darkness as affirmation that I am right. I know what this life has in store for me. I am going to wither and die and finally when I am turned to ash I will be as forgotten as I always have been. There will be no one opening my Pandora’s box, no one looking on trinkets or scraps of paper remembering a time when I loved…because I am the only one who ever thought enough of the words between us to keep them. And today is a sad day.