The Cardboard Box

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Last night, while cleaning out a storage room, I found my life. It was in a dust covered cardboard box on a forgotten shelf in a room I seldom enter. The box was worn and torn at the corners and the tape meant to hold it together had lost its grip and was peeling away in pieces. On it was written “misc. crap” in bold black felt pen. A remnant of some previous shuffle from one abode to another. As I removed the box from the shelf I could feel the irony and metaphor in the weight of its contents.

I sat it on the floor and gently opened it for fear of tearing it apart. I found inside my memories. They were all there in fading photos, frayed hand written pages of teenaged angst and my children’s brilliant works of art and achievements. There was a scrap book my mother had assembled long ago for my fiftieth birthday that painted her vision of pride, letters from distant friends and passing lovers now lost in time, sepia images of my childhood that reflect better times than I remember and tickets to events and performances of mine or others of historical note complete with programs and complimentary clippings for she would never include a bad review. Kodachrome and parchment reminiscences from five decades of living. Sorting through it all brought happiness and melancholy, sadness and joy, tears and laughter.

I relived each captured moment wistfully and carefully weighed each one of them in the balance of my life. It soon became apparent that given the consideration of my present existence there was a theme to be discovered.

From the teenage turbulent time of discovery and disappointment, a photo of my graduation night with the girl that became my fiancé but never my wife. Sometimes fate corrects mistakes before they happen.

Another of a child dressed up as a caballero, bangled sombrero on head, sack in hand, prepared to head out and pander for candy on Halloween with a smile as wide and honest as I have ever seen.

A love song written to the most beautiful girl I had ever met and fallen in love with but never dated. She had another suitor more well off than I and it was all I had to offer her. I would sing it from my balcony at night when I knew she would be coming home.

Photos from my wedding day when we eloped to avoid my interfering mother and a divorce certificate representing the moment of devastation when I learned it was imminent. A beginning and an ending held in one hand and the other.

A framed piece of childishly primitive art work stating “I love You Dad” that brought tears both joyful and forlorn that fell to the floor and evaporated in time much like the colours in the photographs I had held.

A ticket for a cruise from Vancouver to San Francisco on which my mother had lost my favorite hat, blown overboard in a moment of distressing whimsy. Much later in life she sought to amend her folly and replace my lost chapeaux with an atrocious baby blue pork pie affair. A more ugly piece of headwear I have never witnessed yet I was overwhelmed by the sentiment it contained.

Two photos, one each of my new born daughters held in my arms. Through all the dire warnings of child birth and parenthood that were expressed to me by those with prior experience, not one told me of the overpowering love that came with their entrance into the world and my life . No one warned me that my heart would be forever more fragile and lost in their lives.

As I continued to rummage through the box and wander through time, each item I retrieved made it clear that all the peaks and valleys that held true meaning in my life had nothing to do with alcohol and to this day, my most recent and affecting memories and experiences are free from it. It has never been my friend, my confidant, my lover, my child, my joy or my celebration.

This is why I do not drink.

old photos

This post is by Rob Morton , the self published author of Stuff I Wrote and a member of BOOM community, the Independent, anonymous, private community inside Boozemusings where you can read more of his writing here

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