Suzy picked up the old blue Rubbermaid tote from the stacks in the garage. As the dust stirred up, she coughed a bit as she carried it back into the house. It was that time of the year, Spring cleaning in the Fall. The tote felt heavy as if it were full of lead weights.
She bobbled it a bit as she fumbled to close the door to the house behind her, then found her way to the living room. The tote hit the floor with a heavy thud. She grabbed some cleaning rags and dusted off the excess grime which had built up over the years. She wasn’t sure what was in the box…she could be diving into 20-year-old junk or treasures. She hoped for the latter as she peeled open the lid.
She smiled as she found some pictures and cards from throughout the years. Some from her ex-fiancé — she must have packed this up when they sold the house all those years ago. Those can be tossed, no more feelings are tied to them. Others from her dad, who passed years ago, as well as her mom, along with a host of friends. She smiled through some sweet tears as she looked through the cards and trinkets. She sorted through, keeping the ones that still mattered, putting the rest aside for donations that maybe others could enjoy or destined for the trash.
As she neared the bottom of the tote, a small wooden cedar box was nestled in the corner under some cards. She paused, then reached for the box. It had a lock, but the key was long gone. As she opened it, a few things came to light. A couple of boxed necklaces sat on top which no longer had meaning for her. She set those with the donations.
She unfolded some little sheets of lined papers. Crayon and pencil covered them with I Love You Sissy and drawings from when her baby sister was young. They were 12 years apart, so she had to be 16 or so when she received these little notes. She put them aside to show her sister later that week at lunch.
She flipped through all her middle and high school and college ID cards, laughing at how she wore almost the same red and white striped pattern throughout middle school. The rest were just funny to see with the big hair and bangs, along with her child-like face.
She found her little plastic owl she used to display on her car dash. She loved birds and, while she couldn’t remember where she got it from, she considered taking it and putting back in her current car for good luck.
Then she looked down. Two reminders of him sat before her. Things she couldn’t depart with even at the worst moments. His air force ring with a garnet/ruby colored stone and a pin from his preferred state University she had planned to give him, but never got it out to him. She mused to herself a few moments, wondering if he ever knew that in high school she picked the same color stone because it wasn’t just one of the school colors, but his birthstone as well. For her, it was a win-win no matter what back then.
She picked up the ring and placed it on her thumb. Still too big, she recollected how she wrapped it with thread so she could have it with her when he was in service until she found a sturdy enough chain to wear it on her neck. She probably should have sent it back to him, but he never asked for it, and she really didn’t want to let it go.
She smiled to herself as she slowly set the items back into the box, and then packed everything back in the tote. That tote should never have been out in the garage, so she set it in the office, still not ready to part with what remained.