Wednesday, June 07, 2006

The Box

I have a little grey lockbox that I keep in the garage. It holds ancient, half-finished journals, letters from a friend of mine who went to jail because he's an idiot and letters from old boyfriends. I never lock the lockbox. And while Husband was cleaning out the garage this weekend he made a big deal about finding the key to This Box and why don't I just keep it locked already? I thought, "Oh. . ." He said, "The last time I read something in there I was upset for weeks." Which made me laugh but I realized this weekend how much he really hates The Box.

I personally think The Box is filled with embarrassments and documented growing pains. I don't want to throw it out because I'm certain I'll regret it. I once had a crazy jealous boyfriend who in a fit threw out a bag of old pictures he had found. I did not take that well at all. At all.

I read through some of journals in The Box this morning which I haven't done in a lot of years. I came to the conclusion -- and I've held this theory in a private recess of my brain for years -- that I wasn't smart until I was thirty years old. I really think this is true. Ok, I was smart in a instinctual, survival-mode kind of way, and maybe when I was a child, I was brilliant. But by the time I was twenty, I was dumb. I floundered in stupidity for about ten years. My journals confirm this. It kinda cracks me up that Husband would be upset by what the 20 something year old me would write, though NOBODY likes to read about the past lovers of one's spouse. . .

When Husband and I first moved in together, he received a letter from a girl he kinda dated for a minute back in New York. She was a swedish model -- A SWEDISH MODEL, YO -- and he just stashed the letter (he says absentmindedly) in his sock drawer. Before he moved to California and while we were dating bicoastally, he showed me a picture of her because a.) Men are dumb and b.) I think he was so proud of himself that he could land a girl like that. What was I supposed to say, Yea she's hot, man, good for you. That's awesome. You're a stud. I was more like, Are you kidding me right now? What's she got that I don't besides white hair and blue eyes and fucking dimples? Is this what you really want in a girl? And on and on . . .yo, he started it. So, he got this letter from fucking Inga or whatever after we'd moved in together -- and after I'd seen her stupid picture -- and the letter's all about some night they had with a group of people in a limo. In flowery stupid writing it said " . . .thanks for the great time in the limo . . ." which used to infuriate me; caused my eyes to roll to the back of my head. And this letter just sat in his sock drawer like I was a blind person who did his laundry and had to ignore the letter everytime I put away his folded underwear. Ggrrr. So, finally I said in a tone that had built up over ten laundry cycles and that took him totally by storm, "What's with the fucking letter, huh?" And he says in perfect man-ese: "What letter?" "THIS LETTER FROM YOUR FUCKING SWEDISH GIRLFRIEND THAT YOU HAVE TO PARADE AROUND BECAUSE YOU THINK BETTER OF YOURSELF BECAUSE YOU LANDED SOME HOT BLONDE-HAIR BLUE-EYED BBBBBIIIIITTTTTCCCCHHHHHH. THAT LETTER!" He was like, "Holy shit, loca, I'll throw the letter away. I didn't realize it was in there." "BULLSHIT. AND WHAT ABOUT THESE GREAT TIMES YOU HAD IN THE LIMO GODDAMNIT??" With a straight face he says, "What great times in the limo?" And I seriously almost crammed the crumpled (from my grip) and rolled-up letter into his ear.

My point is that I understand how he's feeling about The Box. And I kinda pulled his routine when he asked me about it this weekend. I was like, I forgot The Box was in the garage which is true though not entirely because if I saw The Box, I'd be like oh yeah, there's The Box. So technically I had forgotten about it. Then he said, "I don't want to read all about that shit . . ." Now, he and I don't front and say things like "Why are you going through my shit and reading my private things!" because we know that if things are not hidden well, it's fair game though there has been no dramatic fair game in a long time. I said, "What shit?" I haven't read what's in The Box in a long, long time, and though I sincerely couldn't remember what he was talking about specifically, I do know there is some shit in there. I took The Box away from the house this morning.

The best part of the journals from The Box is that I documented some crazy sleeping dreams that reveal a subconscious smart side even if it wasn't obvious in my twenties. Wild dreams where I lounged by African river banks and basked naked on rocks in the river and witnessed trees made of peacock feathers. There was also a detailed entry right after the 1992 Landers Earthquake that was 7.3 in magnitude and was followed five minutes later by a 7.6 aftershock. At the time I lived alone in a restored building from the 1930's near downtown LA. From my sixth floor apartment, I felt the building shake so violently it felt like it was made of plywood. The thunder-rattle of the building was terrifying. I rushed to the window as the quake wound down --dawn was just breaking -- and I watched power lines snap off poles in tremendous sparks, like they were being cracked like a whip. And I was petrified then of Suffering; any suffering that people endure in the wake of disaster or by the hand of others. When the aftershock hit, I curled up into a ball near my bed and prayed. All I wondered was if I played a role in anyone's suffering. I was sorry if I had. I wouldn't do it anymore.

The rest of The Box is pretty much shit; mainly relationship whining and lamenting and kicking myself. And boring, tedious introspection. Ug.

I laugh off Husband's agitation about the contents of The Box because my husband is absolute perfection to me. Nothing in those journals matter. My Dumb Decade was only a sloughing of stupidity to get ready for him, so I wouldn't fuck anything up with us. I don't even question how I got so lucky anymore. I just gulp him up, arresting any iota of sabotage. I'm like, Thanks God, and with a quick wave, I'm off running with the golden egg. I'll drop kick That Box back to the past, next to the swedish letter, if he said the word.


Laini Taylor said...

Ha ha ha! I have a 'box' too -- actually it's a "locked" file drawer, easy to pry open (as we long ago discovered) and filled with journals I can't stand to read but resist throwing away. I mean, that's ME. And I was pretty dang dumb too. When I read awesome young adult novels about smart, serious young women, I kind of wish I could go back in time and be them, but I wasn't. I was shallow and dumb. I don't think the "box" bothers my husband that much anymore but it was a big source of conflict at one time!

acumamakiki said...

I had a 'box' which consisted of my journals and stupidly (I could kick myself HARD) I threw them all away when I moved in with the drug addict. Because he'd stolen a journal and used the info. against me so I thought, no more of that. Why I didn't think to NOT move in with him I don't know, I could kick myself for that too.
Funny how a little box can bring up so much! (=

Melinda said...

I love this!

My husband has a box. It's cardboard and stashed away in the closet. Also, a manilla envelope marked "personal stuff" which is stored in the file cabinet. We've never discussed them. Maybe we should?

I threw out anything from/relating to old boyfriends not long after I got married. But the journals and diaries all remain. And they are doozies... :)

Maven said...

You are so totally speaking my language in this post; it's exactly what I needed to read. Frankly, I do think men are generally stupid about the artifacts of their past, whereas to us the letter in the sock drawer is big shit, especially if we are cursed with literary imaginations. (My version of the "letter in the sock drawer," incidentally, is the "ex-wife's red panties in the storage closet." I mean, Jesus H.)

Ibarionex R. Perello said...

"So, finally I said in a tone that had built up over ten laundry cycles"

That line has me laughing out loud...
keep that for the book that's germanating in you.

Tara said...

thats what i said at the end of this.

mmmmmmmmmm. yum. wonderful post.

Dori said...

I think everyone should have a box! It's a real treasure trove of self-esteem! I'm not married yet, but I think that when I am, and I have a scary fight with the love of my life, I'll be very glad to go into my box and read all the incredibly mushy things other guys have written to me. That said, my own adolescent pinings are in boxes under the stairs in my parents' house. I can't throw them away but can't imagine the trauma of reading them.
Cool, thought-provoking post!

Kathleen said...

my box is a shoe box. it is in my closet stacked along with my other shoe boxes...incognito.

it is full of old letters and photos. i wouldn't part with it for anything.

it is nice, sometimes, to pull it out and reminisce. and especially nice to see personal growth! hee...

lovely post, as always.