Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Keys To My Innocence

I am prone to moving things [from places they shouldn't be!] tidying up, putting things in a "safe" place where I will be assured, maybe, of finding them next time they are needed. Somewhat like a squirrel. I recently decided to search, once again, for a key that went missing months ago. And, naturally, I'm the prime suspect. When something can't be found it is automatically assumed that I am the culprit, due to the aforementioned zeal for tidying up, or to my penchant for driving the men in the house crazy. So, in an effort to establish my innocence, and maybe even find the bloody thing,I decided to start with my jewelery box. Which, for me, was a logical place, since I often stash small items there which I want to keep "safe."

I'm not into wearing jewelery much,feeling a little like a Christmas tree if anything is dangling from my person other than a bona fide body part, but the jewelery box was a gift from my mother-in-law, who thought every woman should have a one. And at age twenty two, and clueless, who was I to argue? So it has sat there, on my dresser, part of the bedroom landscape, for forty years.

It measures 12"x7"x5".You wouldn't think it possible to cram large segments of a life into that small a space! But I seem to have done it! [Takes a bow...]

I lifted the lid and started my search.

No key was immediately visible, but looking at the disorganization of all the little compartments, I thought....

" I really ought to empty the whole thing out, and maybe, as I put things back, I'll find it."

Right. I'm nothing if not an optimist. I don't believe I've ever completely emptied it. Even when we moved, it would get taped shut, still bulging, and transported like that.I wasn't brave enough to just upend it, so I took things out, one by one, creating a fine mess,

examining each piece, puzzled by some, careening off down memory lane at the sight of others.

There is jewelery in there, most of it never worn. It would be more accurate to call it a memory box, because the jewelery is incidental; mostly it holds my memories and treasures, such as:

Hospital wrist bands from the births of each child;

Baby teeth, dried up and brittle, jumbled together so that it would take a DNA test to identify which tooth belonged to which child!

A tiny, silvery high heeled shoe that was on our wedding cake, forty years ago;

A Child of Mary sodality medal with my mother's maiden name on the back, probably from the mid nineteen thirties when she was in her teens;

Various Mary Help of Christians medals from my school days. She was the patroness of the order of nuns whose school I attended.

Two tiny saints's relics, which might mean that somebody's ancient bones are sitting, all these years, on my dressing table! Can you tell I grew up Catholic??

Two kilt pins;

A large sand dollar and a few random shells. Artifacts from the beach find their way into all kinds of unlikely corners of our house!

A newspaper cutting from the nineteen eighties about Lily's synchronized swim team;

A drawing of a dinosaur by a very young Bean, for my birthday in the early nineties;

A ribbon and lace garter from Lily's wedding, thirteen years ago;

Various academic and soccer medallions from kids' high school days;

A beautiful gold cross and chain of oldest son's, whose leanings these days are more towards Buddhism;

A high school ID card for California Girl;

Coins from various times and countries;

A small bottle of water from Lourdes; my mother brought it back from one of her trips there with my brother; it must be at least fifty years old! And not all evaporated yet, though what little is left is kind of dingy and discoloured looking.

No less than,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,eight watches, in various states of disrepair. One of them is the watch my father gave to my mother on their wedding day in nineteen forty seven! I never had luck with watches, so depend on my cell phone these days for the time.

The stub of my airline ticket from Munich to Cork, from when I went to visit my German friends about five years ago on a trip home;

A note to the tooth fairy from a small boy, asking her if she could please leave his tooth for him this time "because I haven't got to keep one of my toothes yet."

An envelope containing curls from Britboy's first haircut in 1979;

A medallion from the Royal Life Saving Society---proof positive that, at one time in my life,I was qualified to save a person from drowning. Between you, me and the wall,if I'd been the person in danger of drowning I'd have died of fright instead to see "me" coming to "save" me! Fortunately no-one ever tested my abilities.

A string of pearls that belonged to my mother. I do wear them occasionally;

Several brooches which I used to wear, but rarely now, since moving to Florida. Bare feet and T-shirts never seem to call for the addition of a brooch.

After several hours I gave up the search, closed the lid, order [or some semblance thereof,] restored.

What I did not find: The keys which were the purpose of the exercise, so I will continue to be presumed guilty! Or my original wedding ring which I had lost several years ago. Since the OC recently bought me a replacement, I am confident that it is only a matter of weeks until the long-lost original shows up!

I am curious now: What do other people keep in their "jewelery" boxes?


Meggie said...

What an intriguing post. How nice of you to share your wonderful 'treasures'. Strangely enough, yours are much the same as mine. When I worked in an office, I wore jewelry, but nowadays not so much. I have treasures from my childhood, and yes, small children's teeth and medals.I have treasures from small grandchildren also. I often wonder what my family will make of it all when I am gone.

Warty Mammal said...

This is so cool. You don't have a jewelry box so much as a treasure box. A memory box. Its contents are far more precious than jewels.

My jewelry box has jewelry in it. So very dull.

Along the "losing things" line, I was getting ready to use my newfangled bias tape machine recently, and for the life of me couldn't remember where I'd put its quilt binding tip. (The tip is too large to store in the box with the machine.) Somewhat reluctantly, I took the box off its shelf, thinking I'd have to mount a full scale search for the accompanying tip. I absentmindedly opened the box, while wracking my brain. Where in the heck had I put the tip? Then I saw it, there inside the box ... no, not the tip, but a note I'd written months ago, saying "the quilt binding attachment is in the top right drawer with the thread." Evidenly the me of six months ago knew I'd never remember where I put it!

Relatively Retiring said...

That's a wonderful memory box, and the really good thing now is the detailed inventory. The significance of the contents will not be forgotten - by you or anyone coming after you.
I must do the same.
The key will be in that kitchen drawer, alongside the various bottle openers, inefficient scissors, rubber bands and little brush for cleaning mushrooms.

Friko said...


Bits and pieces of fancy, real, ethnic, broken, wearable, unwearable, cheap and cheerful, expensive present type, single links, a couple of old watches, all bits of jewelry.

My treasure chest is separate.

What on earth made you think I'm perfect? I haven't a perfect bone in my body. I am a complete mess.

molly said...

Meggie, I have a lot of tidying up to do before I go! I shudder to think of my children rifling through my stuff, seeing a whole different side of me...."We should have committed her a long time ago, for her own good!"

Warty, I write "helpful" notes to myself too. But when i need the information they contain, inevitably I can't find them.

RR, thanks for your suggestion. I already checked that drawer though. They're not there!

Friko, I don't think you're perfect, but you do seem to know your own mind and have a sensitive radar for BS, which I would like to have!

heartinsanfrancisco said...

I haven't had a jewelry box as such since I was in my teens - it was dark green - but I now keep my jewelry, of which I am quite fond although I rarely wear any of it, in the many little drawers of a Japanese tonsu, next to a sculpted head my son made in 2nd grade, a ceramic piggy bank made by #1 daughter and a heart-shaped small box made by #2 daughter.

Things go missing here all the time, but it isn't my fault usually - Flip clears things away with the peculiar logic of Alzheimer's and since he has more than a foot of height on me, I have no chance of ever finding them again. Maybe I should buy him a very large jewelry box!

Thimbleanna said...

What a fun post Molly! My jewelry box is somewhat like yours -- though not nearly as stuffed. I do have the odd coin and baby tooth though!

raining sheep said...

Oh my. Well, I don't own a jewelry box but, I think if I did it would look very much like yours. I have a 'jewelry' drawer where I throw my many pieces of this and that. I shake at the thought of having to ever go through it. That would take days. I don't actually pull anything out of there except maybe for Christmas parties. If I need an accessory of the jewel kind, I play it safe and just go buy it so I don't have to face 'the drawer'.

SmitoniusAndSonata said...

For someone who didn't really need a jewellery box , you've managed to fill it very satisfactorily !
I share everyone's reluctance to part with baby teeth , locks of hair , medals , my grandmother's rosary , old passport photos ,mass cards , a couple of generations of engagement rings ( "diamonds" too small to be seen with the naked eye )and stopped watches .
My daughters will inherit this plus my contribution to the family treasure chest , three pretty buttons , a Zulu bead bracelet and a holy picture signed on the back by a B-list Fifties Film Star ( well , it was the only thing I could find , when I saw him !)

secret agent woman said...

I have a small box I keep most of my treasures of the sort you describe. Mostly I keep jewelry in mine, but also a drawer of some sewing essentials, some coins and a few baby teeth.

silfert said...

You would be a perfect fit in our home. Himself is the Clearer of Stuff, while I am the Packrat. I don't have a jewelry box, but I suppose the house could be considered a time capsule of sorts...

@ly said...

I thought I was reading about myself. #1) I too am guilty of putting something someplace for safe keeping then not remembering where that place was and #2) I have a jewelry box or 2 that are loaded with similar's like strolling down memory lane. Hope you find the key.

Wanderlust Scarlett said...

Molly, I loved the stroll with you down your memory lane. I could almost see the years passing, and you tucking each precious little memory away, to keep it forever.


LOVE it.

My jewelry box is also more of a memory box, as I usually only wear jewelry for special events. There are breast cancer ribbon pins for all the events I've done, blood donor pins (9 gallons now!), some newspaper clippings, things that little ones have given me, some foreign coins, a few pieces of jewelry that belonged to my grandmother, an old rec center ID of mine, and tons of pressed/imprinted tourist pennies from places I've gone to visit.

Little mementos of life as it has flown right through me, around me, past me; things I've caught and held onto, in an attempt to hold the moment along with the memory.

Thank you,

Scarlett & Viaggiatore

BrightenedBoy said...

I love going through the old boxes of my childhood and seeing things I've forgotten for years.

For the exact same reason, I'm glad I've been a mostly consistent diarist since I was twelve years old; nothing can illuminate a person's past adventures and mentality as brightly as his own words.