Natalie - Los Angeles, California
Entered on June 16, 2008
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: legacy

I believe in stuff. Or, more specifically, I believe in keeping a shoebox full of stuff. The “stuff” in the box is completely objective though, because really anything can be stashed there. As they say, one man’s junk is another’s priceless treasure. What matters in the end is that the stuff in the shoebox is important to you.

My fascination with shoeboxes began many years ago, when I got a new pair of shoes at the tender age of ten. Although I don’t remember the exact shoes that originally lived in my shoebox, based on a certain faded logo, I’d say they were Nikes. My resourceful ten-year old self probably planned to use the leftover shoebox for a diorama or a caterpillar cage. Those noble objectives changed the moment I needed a place to put my special rock. Gradually, as I added more and more things, the lone rock gained the company of postcards, other rocks, marbles, ancient valentines, birthday cards, letters, ticket stubs, and even a pinecone. These days, I have taken to keeping my shoebox and its contents under my bed.

I avoid throwing away what is normally considered clutter so I can relive days long gone, and savor that interesting feeling of nostalgia. Going through my old stuff reminds me of where I come from and how I have changed. I am able to recall many of my little adventures and mishaps from back in the day, and laugh at myself. The stuff in the shoebox triggers long forgotten memories.

However, despite my personal idealistic reasons for retaining old stuff, one does not need to be sentimental to do the same. An assortment of odds and ends safely tucked away can easily be a sign of practical preparation. After all, you never know when you might need a green marble or penny minted in the year 1972. I strongly believe that a shoebox containing a varied selection can always come in handy some day.

But regardless of whether that “handiness” stems from practicality, or something much deeper, one thing remains constant: the junk inside the box is worth something. For me, it’s worth a lot. The shoebox is like a museum of history, and in this case, that history is my own. The things in my shoebox are the physical manifestations of the experiences and feelings that thus far have shaped my identity.

I believe everyone should keep a shoebox full of stuff under the bed. I believe everyone should have memories.