I have this vintage box of letters in my office. Faded with printed flowers and scrawling text, this box has, tucked within it’s brass latch, more memories than I’d ever be able to hold in my mind without its weathered assistance. All those years ago, when I began collecting the notes, scraps, photographs, and messages it now contains, I never could’ve known they would become so much more than the simple correspondences they might originally seem to be.
There, layered in paper, are private jokes with friends, confessions from past loves, and pictures that hold me forever still on a page. And I am so thankful, that for whatever reason in my adolescence, I had the foresight to know that I’d need these reminders of who I was then. The truth is, life doesn’t give us many opportunities for reminiscence, things go too fast, years blur in colorful streaks past my consciousness until I force myself to slow, and visit a memory.
Some of these letters are joy personified, littered with smiles, and coded words that no longer make sense but invoke pleasure anyway. Lined with plans of what we’d do, or where we’d go, or even where we had already been. Some, are harder though. They are the letters that, even now, I can’t bear to read, but need to hold onto, because they are the last proof of the people I can’t let go of … not entirely at least. Cataloged haphazardly, whether dark or delicious … each memory in turn serves its purpose, and found residence in that treasure box for a reason clear to me alone.
Like a silent-bound old friend, this box keeps my secrets, benign as they may be, and guards them until I am ready to whisper glances at them some random, nostalgic day.
Some pieces of a heart remain a mystery. And open as one might claim to be, there will always be chambers and alcoves none can enter. And so it goes. There are depths and passes that remain unexplored, but there are also pathways well worn with remembering.
American Author Roman Payne captured the desire of a woman’s heart perfectly saying, “The only thing higher for a girl and more sacred for a young woman than her freedom and her passion should be her desire to make her life into poetry, surrendering everything she has to create a life as beautiful as the dreams that dance in her imagination.”
My letter box reminds me of those beautiful dreams I once had, and gives me the courage to know that same girl, the recipient of each precious letter, is still in me somewhere. It’s time we honor our hearts, our ambitions, and our imaginations. It’s time to pay reverence to the memories that formed us, but to look forward to what is yet to come. Like elongated silhouettes, memories can cast a lovely shadow … but only when you take them in context of the light before you here and now. Walk on my friends.