Thought Trafficking

Boxes, sockses, lockses and foxes
July 12, 2009, 7:31 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I love going through boxes, especially jewellery boxes, boxes with compartments. The first object of my affection was my mother’s jewellery box, the one that seemed to have all the best secrets. I think that it is a near-universal trait of small children that they love poking around in things that are normally closed and hidden, that have secret compartments and hold secrets, or things perceived as secrets.

When I got older and moved away from home to live with N&T, I got to have double the fun when Tae and I would spend mornings going through my jewellery box, the one I inherited from my mother and painted a dark blue. She was 4 or 5 at the time, and I was in second year university. I would make a cup of tea and she would snuggle beside me and we would excavate every little thing in the box. It is even better to re-discover all the things that you used to hide away with someone who sees them as all new, each time. Every button, every little rock or bit of sea glass means something inside that box. It is more than just jewellery, or odds and ends. It is archaeology. I see Tae now, speaking like a grown-up, sometimes wearing earrings that were culled from that box a few moves ago, small glass cubes bought in Venice, and I have the happy thought that we keep pieces of each other close by.

I go through this box by myself every time I move to thin out what has accumulated there. The big earrings bought for a costume party or the hair elastics thoughtlessly tossed in, those are picked out quickly. Then there is the matter of untangling the two chains that I keep, each threaded through 3 or 4 charms: a sphinx that Gerry and Marie brought back from Egypt when I was about 7, a fish that Megan brought back from Tunisia in high school, a charm against the evil eye that Kailey sent from Greece, an amythyst from an old friend, a heart-shaped locket with pictures of my parents from my father, a red garnet heart from Kailey at Christmas a few years ago that she gave me sitting at her kitchen table while we drank tea. Then there are bracelets from my sister, given to me at the end of her two week visit to Brussels, and also two other bracelets sent specially from my mother and her sister while I was staying there.

Jewellery isn’t something I like to accumulate in large quantities or display. These things could just as easily be bits of found glass shreds of fabric. They are little triggers, like little strings tied around my fingers, little remember-whens. Just enough.

Then dig further in the box, and there are more boxes, under this first layer.

Three little plastic fishes, from N&T one year when they went on vacation, and a little seashell box. Inside the seashell box is a collection of buttons, little found things, a woven armband from Leenie and Kailey years ago, a tiny painted rock. Another cardboard box with two dried flowers, fuschia, from a morning a few years ago. Further under that the miscellany becomes unintelligible, except to me. Notes in the bottom that I can’t throw away, though I begin each time with the intent to do just that. Old addresses, scraps of paper with childish letters, bits of post-its with personal words. Also a barrette from the first grade that I can remember getting tangled in my hair. We were on the Plains of Abraham and mom tried to fix my long hair up when I complained of how hot it was, how itchy my hair was. Some things kept because they should be kept, some things kept because I can’t yet throw them out. Lists, old tickets. A 7-year old watch with a broken strap that still keeps perfect time, the one I used to time the piano lessons I gave.

I am sitting on my floor replaying this ritual because soon I will move again and beside me is a little pile of things that tinkle, that are going away this round: the earrings from mom that I wore to Julie’s wedding; some shiny earrings that I think I wore twice back when I worked at the art gallery; two pairs of hoops, one that I have been putting off parting with because of the magpie in me, though I wore them only once. Small, with tiny engraved motifs and inset stones, not expensive or old but graceful in their own way. A puzzle ring from a folk festival about ten years ago.

I realise that it is a luxury to accumulate even this much, and I know that these things aren’t strictly necessary to me. The reason for writing a post now is the curious urge to share this again, to have someone else’s stories told, to tell your own. To say that this comes from somwhere, and it is dear to me.


1 Comment so far
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Nice blog. Picture of pebbles look great. Enjoyed your blog very much.

Comment by beth

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