The Last Box, pt. 2

03/25/2011

So Elizabeth: Not a mouse; The Mouse!

Urgency Day 147

500 Things Items: To be revealed in due course


So… WHAT IS IN THE BOX?

When I hear that question, “What’s in the box?” I can only hear it in Katharine Hepburn’s very clipped, very young voice in the movie Bringing Up Baby.

“David? What’s in the box?”

(Cary Grant’s voice from the shower) “What?”

“In the box?”

You’ll remember, I’m sure, it was a bone in the box, a fossil.

My box contained a few fossils as well. And a few hard truths.

This box contains the nexus of my contradictory selves, the disparate impulses that meet and inform and divide me. And define me.

“Hi. My name is Suzanne. And I am a recovering Disney addict.”

“HI, SUZANNE!”

I wasn’t always the admonishing voice of downsizing. No, indeed. As proof, two words: My favorite place in the entire world is

1.       Disney

2.       World.

The very definition of grandiose, exhilarating, enchanting, over-blown, over-wrought, rapturous excess

Disney and simplicity? Never met.

My affection isn’t of the glammed-up, post-modern variety, either. This is fanatical, guileless, drank the Kool-Aid, if Captain Hook slams his boot, I will jump, if Mickey says “Jump,” I will soar, devotion.

And here’s my shameful secret: For all my streamlining and downsizing, I’m still addicted. Here’s the shame: I can’t afford it.

Literally, yeah, as in “our economic recovery is in its infancy.” Sound familiar? But also, metaphorically; spiritually. You see, when I have gone to Disney World, I have never met a certain kind of souvenir I didn’t like. How does this not fall exclusively under the category of financially inadvisable? My souvenirs were mostly of the free but temporally burdensome variety.

If it was a themed menu, I took it; if it was a themed napkin, I took it; if it was a themed-

  • Ticket
  • Receipt
  • Brochure
  • Map
  • Notepad
  • Bag
  • Coaster
  • Matchbook
  • Sewing kit
  • Mouse-keeping message
  • Toilet paper stuck to the bottom of Ariel’s tail

I took it. I took it all. And voluminous souvenirs of this kind require archiving.

Now, I had every intention of creating a scrapbook. I even bought the scrapbook cover and page inserts, the mounting corners, the doubled-sided tape and goofy– make that Goofy– adornments. And then I carried the box with the supplies and the souvenirs from our first apartment to our townhouse to the next 2 apartments through another townhouse and to 3 single-family homes.

And with the opening of the box, you have just witnessed the only subsequent effort toward scrapbooking.

I don’t scrapbook.

I know my darling sister is going to feel self-conscious in the details of this confession. She, too, took the themed bits of paper; often in giddy cahoots with me; sometimes nimbly pinching them on her own. But here’s the difference: she did turn her booty into scrapbooks! Glorious scrapbooks, worth poring over, worth preserving.

Ah, now we are at the heart of the matter, the core I referred to yesterday when identifying this last unopened box as my central issue; when I called it the heart of the matter and the dead center.

How are memories best preserved?

Through an unconsidered accumulation of stuff that requires time and brings with it an obligation of attention? That doesn’t seem to be working for me. Not with the Disney stuff. Not with any of my stuff.

In all of this stuff, here is what I love: the notes and annotations; the places on the themed papers where we scribbled plans and times and comments. The gorgeous letters that greeted us from our dearest friends who cared for our pets during our trips. The words in my beloveds’ handwriting, along with a few treasured pictures, put me back in those precious moments far better than any Disney-sanctioned memorabilia. You see, I am not dismissive of sentiment, just stuff. But I’ve got some stuff representing some truly treasured memories here.

Now what?

Here is the list of what I do not need to preserve, representing the 500 Things Project Items 348-56:

out of the box

  • Napkins
  • Gift boxes
  • Bags
  • 2 kind of nasty plastic drink cups
  • Glowing necklaces that no longer glow

And the rest? Well, there’s a picture below. I still won’t scrapbook, but clearly, I can box. I envision a pretty, reasonably-sized box which can sit out in my very streamlined family room and invite perusal. My downsizing project and I can live with one memory box, and I will enjoy it when people ask:

What’s in the box?


1974-2006

still

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7 Responses to “The Last Box, pt. 2”

  1. boysgonewild Says:

    I was RIGHT! It WAS a mouse!
    I ROCK!
    I also scrapbook.

    Just sayin’

    🙂
    Elizabeth

  2. sthibeault Says:

    You were so right about the Mouse! I was chuckling when I read your guess. And I know you scrapbook… you and Donna put me to shame. Always.

  3. Sydney Says:

    This is so much more satisfying than anything I could have imagined! And I saw my handwriting, circa 1990, so now I want to read the rest of my welcome-home letter! And a postcard from the rarefied Grand Floridian, where even the air is more pure than at other Disney resorts…

  4. sthibeault Says:

    Thank you! Two-parters are notorious for having unsatisfying resolutions. I glad this one pleased you. I will scan your letters– there’s one from Sean, too– so you can have the fun of getting a glimpse into your former selves. Let me know what you see.

  5. Donna Says:

    Don’t ever toss this stuff. I’ll bet someone on eBay would buy it. By the way, two of the souvenirs we (I) snatched still make me shake my head: a sample of the wallpaper from the cart of the nice man who was going around doing wallpaper repairs, and the resort themed liner paper at the bottom of the trash can in our room. Someone stop this woman!

  6. sthibeault Says:

    Do you want to sell the wallpaper or the trash can paper? That would be an interesting auction. But I’ve already proven, I’m an eBay wimp. Those people scare me!

  7. melanie Says:

    I think you’ve beautifully explained “parting pain,” and “value.” The Mouse was a worthy collection effort. Mickey is so charismatic he makes you forget that he’s a (whisper next word) rodent. Face it, Mickey and all his pals are really great role models. Personally, I swoon for Pluto.


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