I bought a box.
And in it I placed letters-to-self, name-tags from various functions, cards from home, and pamphlets from everything from the annual Mass of the Holy Spirit to programs from my friends’ presentations at their English major colloquium. I believe that this relatively small collection will sum up four years of my life when I go through it with my future children, or maybe in a few years with a glass of wine in my hand. I’m ashamed to admit that for months, three shopping bags have sat in the corner of my bedroom, mostly untouched since May 12th, waiting for me to comb through them and decide what is vital to my memories of the best period of my life thus far. Sure, I shifted these from place to place on my bedroom floor, and one used to hide in the back of my closet as it contained items from the beginning of college, but more or less I have ignored them because I feared the wave of emotions that would accompany the process of going through each little piece of my life.
But in the past few days, the mess finally got to me. I opened the bags and sorted it all.
And amazingly, I survived.
I got a little choked up while sorting through the bags, like when I read a Candlelight prayer reflection I wrote at the end of my sophomore year about saying goodbye to two dear friends who would be graduating that spring. But mostly I laughed and marveled at the growth and major accomplishments that each item represented. Some brought images of people that hadn’t entered my mind in a long time, memories of a time when the real world seemed like a generation away. And others brought up moments that feel like they just happened yesterday – has it really been nearly 8 months since I shared an apartment with five of the most hilarious, fun-loving, and supportive people I have ever met?? But naturally, a few items came to represent bigger moments or especially fun memories, and those are the ones I’d like to share:
Contrary to first impressions in listing this as one of my favorite items, I am by no means, and never have been, in the habit of going to raves. No, this little formerly glowing green glowstick came from my first college party down in “the Valley” – the center of all the action at AC (especially to underclassmen) – that I went to with a friend during freshman year. We felt SO cool, chatting with the older senior boys that we knew and sipping minimal amounts of jungle juice (“Isn’t that the stuff everyone always warns you about??” we said to each other), and when we told our other friends about our adventure the next day, I think we definitely had way too much pride in our newly discovered rule-breaking ways.
Personal favorite from one of my dearest friends and senior year roommate, written during sophomore year on a sticky note I found on my door after I woke up: “Briotch! I was here and you were sleeping. ❤ A”. I’m fairly certain that it’s notes like these that will continue to make me laugh no matter how old I am when I crack this box open.
3. Official Letters
Acceptances to the Campus Ministry Core Team. Notification of my roommate group’s approval to live in the LLC. Official notice of being a recipient of the Crown and Shield Award. These letters marked very significant parts of my undergraduate experience. But I also kept the rejection letters, too. Because who doesn’t need to be humbled every now and then and reminded that you can’t get it all, but that in no way makes you a failure. Everything happens for a reason, so those rejection letters provide memories of the opportunities that came about even though I didn’t get what I at one point wanted so terribly.
4. 22nd Birthday Cards
In a word, hilarious. My 22nd was probably my favorite birthday EVER. Even better than my 21st. My roommates and I had a huge party, for which they decorated the apartment like crazy, my best friend from home came for the festivities, and it just so happened to be Alumni Weekend, so some of my favorite ex-seniors were in Worcester to join in on the celebration. These cards reminded me of so much laughter and friendship from people who I sadly don’t get to see all that often any more. I had a BLAST – I wore a new sparkly dress and danced my little heart out while running all over and trying to see all my favorites. And those cards reminded me of all the friends that had surrounded me on that day, which was the exact opposite of the kind of birthday I had this year, on which I worked and went to class and felt like I had hurriedly answered birthday texts all day on my sparse downtime. And since this year’s birthday felt so lonely, it warmed my heart to be reminded of all those who had surrounded me with love and fun just a year before, and just because they weren’t there this year doesn’t mean their love still isn’t present in my life.
5. Senior Week Bracelet
Neon yellow-green. Black font. The ticket to all fun and games of the week right before graduation. Cutting off that bracelet just prior to Baccalaureate Mass that Friday was definitely the end of an era, however short that era actually was. And that’s all I think I’m going to say about that….
6. Retreat materials
Without a doubt, these will always bring tears and the realization of how far I have actually come in faith and in being myself. Everything from homemade place-mats to talks I gave to journals responding to the experiences I had while on retreat help to paint a picture of who I was and who I became in four short years, and how my faith brought me along that journey. And no matter what life brings me, I know these items will always fill me with START LOVE.
I suspect the box will stay shut for a time; however, I know full well that I’ll dig it out and review so many happy times and periods of growth. But I also know that I will very likely have to buy more boxes in the future to fit all the other memories that are sure to be made in the years ahead.