The things that matter in this life are strangely intangible. Lots of people want to talk about money to buy new things, they want to praise the new house they bought, the new car they can afford and the lovely things they buy. I have never been one who formed attachments to things, items. Couches can be replaced, new shoes will get scuffed (if you are me that is) and a closet full of clothes has never done me much good seeing as I prefer sweats to dressing up. But the things that can’t be replaced are the things that hold intangible memories and feelings.
My husband and I took our honeymoon at the first place we ever vacationed together. I caught a terrible cold on the flight there, which tends to be how my body prefers to vacation, and the trip was 10 days of me in bed early and my husband sitting on the beach waiting for me to wake up. But each day, knowing I couldn’t get these moments back, I woke up and showered and did my best to run around until my body could no longer function. We drank and laughed and did silly things. We took 10,000 pictures everyday and loaded them onto our computer in the evening and laughed at the moments, frozen in time, that we had already forgotten had happened just hours before.
When we got home, our computer crashed and those moments were lost forever. Even now, five years later, I can remember some of my favorite pictures, some of my favorite moments that we will never have anything but a vague memory of. Such is life I suppose. But in the five years since we have returned, the universe seems to continually conspire to destroy what we have left of that time.
After I graduated and started working full time, we hired a house cleaning service to help me keep up on the bathrooms and vacuuming. They broke the figurine we purchased while on vacation. Luck would have it that it was a limited addition, which made it even harder for them to replace. Each day that I look at the new one, carefully placed in the originals spot on the shelf. I am visually fooled, but my heart knows that it’s not the same. Something the owner of the cleaning service both understood and didn’t. Those 10 days were the last time we laughed so loudly and smiled so widely before my husband deployed and that figurine will never be able to take the place of the one that was lost.
Today, while trying to clean, I wandered upstairs to dust. That is not an uncommon thing to do as three dogs will cause more dust and dander in a house than a month of open windows will. But less than 15 minutes of them being out of my site and they began to bark out of the windows. When I ran downstairs to stop them, the picture frame I had purchased on our honeymoon fell off of the wall and the frame broke. Not the glass, the physical wood. And in that moment, I realized that I had told myself the pictures from other trips housed in that frame would take the place of the ones we lost… But it wasn’t the pictures that had made up for all of those memories, it was the frame its self. It was the frame that I bought to house our honeymoon photos and the frame is now gone too.
There are a million intangible things we house in our homes. Memories of times before, laughter that echoes in the walls reminding you of moments now passed, and little bitty reminders, in the corners of shadows, that hold your heart together. I am not one to develop attachments to things that I own, but to the pieces of my life that they house. The strangely intangible bits of my memories that flitter quickly in the corner of my eye each time I see the little bits of my life strewn together. And that is why we buy souvenirs and take pictures. Not because we love the picture frame, but because of what it represents; a time, long ago, of who you were once, and who you might become as a result.