There’s an old shoe box that has been parked under my bed in every bedroom I have called mine in the last twenty years. It sits there being ignored and gathering dust, forgotten for most of the time. But every now and then, usually when furniture is being re-arranged, I notice it again, and I am inevitably drawn to it. As soon as it gets my attention, no matter how busy I may be, I know I will end up sitting down with it and going through the contents all over again.
That’s what happened the other day when I was doing a Spring clean of my bedroom. I put it to the side and, as I knew I would, found some time a few days later to come back to it. It’s mostly filled with photos, lots of honeymoon snaps, early photos of our first child, a few of me pregnant with him. There are some cards from Christenings, new baby’s, and birthdays. There are also lots of photos from our wedding, and what I find touching to this day, is that they are all the photos which were taken on our wedding day and rushed off to a one hour photo booth early the next morning by loving family friends, so that we could see the photos as soon as was possible. Which really highlights the lightspeed changes wrought by mobile phones and digital photography, and the instant gratification they offer. Our family and friends went to not a small amount of effort so that we could see photos the very next day.
As I delved deeper into the box it was like looking into a time capsule.
Talk about stepping back in time. There are letters that I wrote my husband back when we were teenagers, film negatives from our honeymoon, and my first three baby’s hospital ID bracelets. Along with one stunning photo taken in a cemetery in Croatia in the Autumn of ’93.
Naturally I couldn’t resist reading through some of the letters, and they are a sweet chronicle of who I was between the ages of sixteen and eighteen. What I thought, what I liked, how I felt. Interestingly, the majority of them were written in my computer studies class, perhaps explaining why I failed that subject so dismally. There were scribbled upside-down greetings from the friends I sat with, who were bored too. Some are embarrassing (oh! teenage drama!), some are very personal, but I am glad I kept them.
The baby ID bracelets are heart meltingly tiny. When they are joined end to end the circle they form is barely a couple of centimeters across, less than an inch. That they were once wrapped around the brand new ankles of my babies seems eons ago. Yet there they sit, yellowing and fading, at the bottom of an old shoe box.
Most of our film negatives have been lost who knows where. We do still have the honeymoon negatives, and some of the first rolls we took of our very first child. It seems that by the time he was a few months old I had my shit sorted and was putting all newly developed photos straight into a photo album.
But I so love stumbling onto that box 😉