What does a minimalist put in her memory box? Only items that make me happy to look at and handle.
Starting at the left bottom and spiraling in clockwise: photo of my dad running in the Senior Olympics the day before he started his radiation treatments, a day book of meaningful quotes I have collected and decorated, a few copies of my book, a few copies of a literary magazine that published some of my poetry, photos that are too big to fit in the photo box, a laminated copy of a newspaper article on hospice care that featured yours truly, the stocking my mom knit for me, a box of photos, greeting cards-both handmade and purchased, and poetry contest award.
Each of these objects represents a happy memory, or uplifts me in someway to review it.
Objects that are not in my memory box: photos of my weddings, a snapshot of my brother being mean to me, a copy of Jonathan Franzen’s memoir that he had the publisher send to me.
It took me a little time to unpack the emotions of the things that I let go. There was such hope at the beginning of the marriages, and love. But the dark and twisty thing that those became does not need a memorial. I have happier photos of my brother and me and no longer need to keep the evidence of his abuse. The pride in having had a friend who went on to be an acclaimed writer, was undone by his lack of courage in explaining to me why he ended our friendship. His explanation is in the book, which he had sent to me twenty years after the fact.
I have said before that I will never be the family historian. It just isn’t something that interests me. That frees me to keep only the objects that make me happy. Learning to live lightly and freely, that interests me very much.