The first handwritten letter I ever received was from my grandfather when I was a child. For a short time, his work took him from Louisiana to Wyoming where he would write to me often.
In these letters that I have cherished for many years, my grandfather would always tell me a little about what it was like to live in a state that was far different from the southern United States.
He would talk about the never-ending mountain ranges that painted the horizon and the bountiful snowfalls that would keep him held up inside his hotel room.
And without fail, he would sternly insist in every letter that he knew in his heart I was doing well in school and that I was visiting my grandmother regularly.
From time to time, I pull the tattered envelopes out from the 66-year-old cedar chest that sits in my bedroom and read them as if they would have arrived in the mail today.
Each letter I received was special partly because of the personal artwork my grandfather would unfailingly include in his memorable notes.
He would sketch a drawing on the last page of the letter or on the back of the envelope that depicted him sending me hugs and kisses from afar. All drawings were faithfully accompanied by plenty of Xs and Os.
While my grandfather’s letters are one of my most adored possessions, there are others in my keepsake chest that I hope to preserve for years to come.
There’s the yellow baby album that holds the embarrassing, yet must-keep photos that document my first three birthdays along with the perfectly-spiraled ringlets from my first haircut.
And next to that is a box filled to the brim of its cardboard edges with greeting cards from friends and family that could undoubtingly stock the shelves of a Hallmark store.
There’s the 100-piece coin collection and photo albums from times gone by, and the child-sized ceramic tea set that now fits in the palm of my hand.
Another possession that I hold close to my heart is the scrapbook from my senior year in high school.
That year has been since labeled “the year of firsts.”
I had my first real serious relationship and had to discover who I was deep inside.
For the first time, I had to face the world without my parents comfortably standing behind me and my senior book commemorates all the exciting moments that led me to the path of adulthood.
There’s concert ticket stubs and the unforgettable pictures from prom to silly notes I’d pass in class and those teenage-crazed journal entries.
I’ve also held on to the wind-up teddy bear that plays music that my father gave me on the day I was born and my autographed pictures from the band Better Than Ezra.
Just looking at those photos takes me back to the day my best friend Amanda and I took on the city of New Orleans as if it were our own at the age of 15 determined to meet our favorite group of guys. We thought it was the happiest day of our lives.
And among all of the wonderful memorabilia, there lies a plastic bag with the now dried rose petals from every bouquet my fiance has given me.
To some of you, my need to hold on to these miscellaneous items may seem arbitrary, but for me, these keepsakes help my favorite memories stay alive - not only in my mind, but in my heart, too.
One day, when I’m older, I’ll be able to look through by chest of treasures and reflect on all the important moments in my life. And I’ll remember what it was like to be young and hold that feeling close to me.
|LETTERS FROM THE PAST. When I was a child and my grandfather went to Wyoming for work, he’d write me letters that included hand-drawn artwork like the ones pictured above.|