The last time I went to visit my parents at the house where I grew up, I spent some time clearing out the cupboards of my old bedroom. Increasingly steeped in a strange sense of time this room kept my teenage life on pause and rendered ever more faded with each visit. For some time, its main use was for storing stuff that didn’t belong anywhere else, but now it was slowly transitioning into a becoming a guest room.
I moved a mattress, an ironing board, spare duvets and boxes of old plates out of the way of my cupboard. Sitting on the top shelf were several shoeboxes that I had not looked at since they were placed there. Each was filled with personal effects: Birthday cards, letters, mementos, gifts from exes. The markings on the outside of each box gave no indication as to its contents and inside there were things I didn’t recognise. Things I had been given or kept but I couldn’t remember from whom or for what reason. Objects that no longer connected and images depicting the way she looked like a stranger. This confrontation was as equally alienating as it was embarrassing. Some comfort was found in believing that I wasn’t this person anymore. But then again I knew I was responsible for these things still hanging around. At the time filling these boxes was a way to avoid throwing away things that meant something once. But then after a while it just became about laziness in not discarding them.
Looking at them I realised the oldest box had sat here for half of my own lifetime. The reason why I was now finally going through these boxes was because I was searching for a disc of pictures from a slightly later time in my life. In fact the disc contained the entire lifetime of my first digital camera but was misplaced. It annoyed me that I didn’t know where it was. I had looked everywhere else I could think and so thought I might have put it in one of the boxes.
While searching I noticed how the most recent shoebox coincided roughly with the time I had that camera, and that this last box was lighter and less filled than the others. Of course I was getting older and more able to deal with the drifts of relationships that mark adolescence but none the less there were no more boxes after this.