Yesterday afternoon I was sat at my desk and suddenly noticed that my wrist felt lighter.
This might seem a strange way to start a post, but bear with me.
For the past three years I have worn the same watch, the same pandora bracelet and the same three rings every single day. It is now a crucial part of my morning routine that signals, “Yep, let’s do this.” And the few times I have forgotten said jewellery, I have been either mind-numbingly hungover or feeling the after effects of a fun night of insomnia. Lovely.
So as I looked down to my left wrist and saw that my charm clad bracelet was no longer there, I immediately fell into a pit of anxiety. Without realising it, my eyes were brimming with tears before I even considered the possibilities. The thought of this bracelet falling from my grasp made me feel sick to the stomach.
Luckily, I work with a team that is a) used to my emotional outbursts and b) incredibly caring. We all started rummaging through the piles of work, grappling through the outdoor lunch area and getting down on the floor to peer under cupboards. But alas, we could not find it. After checking with a housemate whether she could see it in my bedroom, I accepted my fate that I would never see this precious gift again and totally broke down.
Now I know how ridiculous this sounds. And let me assure you, it wasn’t that I was devastated by the thought of losing this material item because it was pretty or whatever.
It was all the memories I had associated with it. Everytime I would look at the bracelet, I would be reminded of some of the best times in my life: graduation, holidays, my 21st and starting new jobs just to name a few. These tiny little charms always found a way to take me back to a happy place, however gloomy the present might have seemed.
Most of all, although it ashamed me to admit it, the bracelet was the last item I had left that reminded me of positive times with my ex. Whilst everything anyone ever told me (in the early stages of the breakup) revolved around getting rid of any such trinkets, I just never felt the need. The bracelet didn’t make me sad for what never was… it just made me happy for what we did have.
As I took the path home to try and catch a glimpse of silver on the pavement, it struck me that throughout my life I have always attached crucial importance to items, collecting them alongside memories.
I was taken back to the night before my Race for Life. I was sat in my new bed (after just moving into my post-break up house) thinking about my Nan, replaying memories and letting the sweet nostalgia sweep through my body. All of a sudden I was overcome by panic that, since moving, I hadn’t seen two cherished items she had given me in my younger years. I had launched myself out of bed, emptying boxes and draws like a mad woman. I hardly even knew what I was doing. All I knew was that I had to find these items.
Needless to say I did; they were a beautiful pearl ring she had bought me for my 17th birthday and a simple white heart that had always been a symbol of her love for me, and a reminder that wherever she was, she was thinking of me.
The moment I held these items in my hands, I broke down into hysterical tears. Sat on the floor surrounded by the mayhem I had created, I wept with relief, happiness and a deep longing for my Nan to be with me.
But she was, really. To me, as long as I had those items, she would always be with me.
And I do this with everything. You only have to see the amount of teddies I have hoarded over the years to realise that. It was one of my hardest packing choices (when coming to Italy) when I could only physically bring one. In the end I settled on a cuddly monkey with a vest that says “YOLO”. To anyone else, this is absolutely ridiculous. To me, it reminds me of the time immediately after University when three incredible women made my life full of love and joy. It draws me back to the time between student living and adulthood, when everything changed.
Two of the rings I wear daily are from my Mother; a woman who long ago made the choice to not have me in her life. Recent events have caused my negative feelings towards her to boil over the edge in a wave of anger and disbelief. One of the major reasons for my dipping emotional state, there is not even a glimmer of positivity I feel for her. Yet I wear her rings and would feel naked without them.
Why? I had never questioned this before that very day. I suppose, much like the bracelet, I associated it with a time when she did mother me… when she did make me feel loved.
I suppose this link I associate between items and happy memories also materialises in my relationship with tattoos. I have two; one a reminder of my Nan and a song that brought me comfort after her death, and the other a symbol of friendship and a major turning point in my life… namely, my move to Italy. It represented finally letting go of the past and stepping into the future with bravery and passion.
I’d be lying if I said everyone liked these tattoos. But to me, it doesn’t matter. It is what they mean to me that counts, and the fact that whenever I see them I will be reminded of my mental state at that point in time.
In the same vein, there are certain songs I cannot listen to without breaking down as the associated memories are too real. Play me a BeeGees song and I will cry over memories of happier times with my Mum. Put on Catatonia ‘Road Rage‘ and I will switch between mad laughter and tears as I go back to hilarious moments with my ex. ‘Fly me to the Moon‘ = total slobbering mess dreaming of my Nan.
Yet Groove Armada ‘At the River‘? Or Shaggy ‘It Wasn’t Me‘? My day instantly becomes that little bit brighter.
(Just gonna leave this here…)
I’m not sure if it is a good or bad thing, placing so much emphasis on an item to capture a memory. And I couldn’t tell you why I do it. But, as a I desperately searched for this little bracelet, I have realised it is something I have always done.
When I fall, I fall deeply. Whether that is for love, family, friends or my own hobbies, it’s all or nothing with me. I cannot say goodbye to anything. Saying goodbye feels like being hit in the stomach with a ton of bricks. By building these significant items along the way, it is almost as if I am never really saying goodbye.
It keeps those treasured memories alive.
What about you? How do you collect memories?
*PS – Y’all be pleased to know I found the bracelet buried under a pile of crap. Task for this weekend – tidy your damn room girl.