Saturday, February 7, 2009

Stories in a Box

I'm not going to post a motivational quote this week because I want to share something of a more personal nature with you. I don't usually do that, but since it is writing related, I hope you'll bear with me.

Both my daughters take dance lessons. At the end of each lesson they get a sticker for doing good work. Today, I happened to mention to the oldest one that when I was a girl I used to collect stickers. It was a big thing in the early 1980's. Stores had long racks that looked like metal paper towel holders that held rolls of stickers in a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes. They also had sticker albums with laminated sheets to store your collections.

When I told my daughter that I still had my sticker albums upstairs in my hope chest, she asked to see them. Of course, they were close to the bottom of the chest and I had to take out what was on top of them to find them. As I dug through the items inside, I found myself stopping to look at many of them, allowing my mind to wander back to days long ago.

Here are just a few of the things I found:

* Diaries that I kept in 1990 and 1991 to track important events in my life and the world around me.

* My son's artwork from preschool (he's 21 now).

* A box of old photos of two people who were like parents to me growing up and who have since passed away.

* A rain poncho I bought when my son, my husband (then boyfriend) and I traveled down to Disney in August 1997, where it rained every afternoon between 2 and 4 pm.

* My red t-shirt from when I roller skated for leukemia. I was probably about 8 or 10.

* An infant's bonnet that was made out of a handkerchief that was given to me when our oldest daughter was born (she's now 7). The poem says that I am to give this bonnet to her on her wedding day. I had forgotten all about it.

* Photos from some of my elementary school field trips.

I could go on, but the point is that there are so many things in that hope chest that I forgot about; so many things that tell the stories of my life and of those I love. Somewhere in that chest is a manilla envelope stuffed with stories I wrote as a teenager. Even then I dreamed of being a writer.

As I tucked my sticker albums back into the chest and placed everything else back on top of them, I wondered, what if I took one of those items from the hope chest and used it to create a story? Who knows what might happen with it? I'm sure it would be totally different from the true story behind that item in my hope chest, but I'm the only one who could write that particular story because I am the one who carries those memories of the true significance of the items I've saved all those years.

I've always liked this quote from novelist Thomas Berger. "Why do writers write? Because it isn't there." And it truly applies here because that story is inside you.

What story could you write based upon one of your momentos?


Dorothy Thompson said...

Omg cheryl...taking each of those momentos from your hope chest and creating a story around them, what if you created a blog and called it Hope Chest or something and each day you'd blog about something within the hope chest. Run out of things in the hope chest? Perhaps other the attic, on shelves, in Bibles. Just a thought, but I'd love to read something like this.

Rebecca Camarena said...

there is a three book series called, Stories from Grandma's attic. they are really fun books.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

This is a lovely post! I loved it. My first novel was based on my own diaries and those of my ancestors. Also on oral histories (that should, after all, be written down!)

So, in fact, one way to leave memories like this behind it to write a book! (-:

Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Author of the multi award-winning This Is the Place, based on the diaries and stories from five generations of hardy Utah women

Cheryl said...

You and your blogs, Dot. You're going to kill me. LOL! I tried starting a new one this week and then decided I just don't have the time.

I've never heard of that book series, Becky. I'll have to check it out.

Thanks for popping in Carolyn. Isn't it neat when so much of your life inspires a book?