When I was young, I thought my world would be different — better — if I were in possession of certain items. If only my parents were rich enough or receptive enough to feel motivated and/or inspired to head to the stores and shop, shop, shop for me.
In that I didn’t come from a family of wealth, I wasn’t a trust fund child, and I wasn’t some yet-to-be-discovered princess who was living as a servant in some rich relative’s attic, I found myself in the unfortunate position of having to work for what I wanted — for the things that went beyond food, shelter, and a good pair of school shoes. I babysat, polished my dad’s wingtip shoes on Saturday nights, set up woefully-unsuccessful Kool-Aid stands, and swept the dance floors of my dad’s bar on Sunday mornings, hoping that some inebriated souls had carelessly dropped some coins our of their pockets while pulling out their hankies to mop their polka-dance-sweaty brows.
I sometimes remember some of the highly-coveted items that I dreamed of possessing . . . I look at them now and can still identify the charms that once beckoned to me.
Lenox Childhood Memories Ballerina Jewelry Box
This ballerina jewelry box was a standard in many girls’ bedrooms while I was growing up. I remember Kim P. who seemingly had every magical girl thing and gizmo imaginable, so of course she had one. While the box must have contained her childhood jewelry, she never once opened its lid in my presence to simply listen to the music.
Kim P. was the kind of girl who demanded that her mother redecorate her room at the end of every summer. She would casually toss some color combinations at her mother, and her mother would then go to work at creating some sort of theme and scheme. At some point in time, Kim P. must have thought that the pink in the jewelry box was clashing with her psychedelic orange-and-blue color scheme . I went over there one day after school and the ballerina box was gone. I remember thinking, Why didn’t she ask me if I wanted it before she threw it away? But how could she have known? I had never once asked if I could lift the lid to listen to the music or to see the ballerina spin in place.
I was to never own one of these fancy, girl-y jewelry boxes. Instead, I used a hand-me-down wooden chest with some vintage-faded image, in muted shades of blue and green, of an Irish cottage and a farmer in the field. The outside of the box was pressed with a carved design, and to its credit of quality, it did hold the coveted feature of having a mirror inside the lid, but the box’s simple features couldn’t quite compare with pink velvet and a spinning ballerina.
In the ways of moving me and my belongings across the country in a pick-up truck, I had to cut ties with many of my various treasures. Hence, I lost the jewelry box in some manner of neglect or forgetfulness. But I did come across one of these plain wooden boxes at an antique store recently, and I bought it immediately. I didn’t even look at the price, as I knew that it was coming home with me.
My excitement upon finding it in that dusty, cluttery shop revealed to me the strength of a memory . . . how a memory can have greater value than phantom wants from the past. I now have my jewelry encased in this retro-memory-box, and it is in a prominent place in the center of my rickety-legged, drawer-sticking dresser — another find that reminded me of a bureau that my grandma had.
It makes me happy when I see this ballerina-less wooden box. I think of my three big sisters and how they all had triplet boxes like this when they were teenagers. I can’t remember how I came to inherit mine, but I am quite certain that it was from one of the Big Girls. It was a sweet gesture, and I am sure that I was happy to receive a treasure box for my odd mix of jewelry bits . . . in spite of my wanting different, more, or better.
We turn our thinking around when we focus on the meaning, the memory, and the value in any given thing, moment, or gesture. Now? I think about one of my sisters giving me her jewelry box. And how special it made me feel to have it.
Childhood memories get refinished in so many ways. They get re-painted, re-purposed, and their edges get sanded and their scratches smoothed. And we sometimes deconstruct and reconstruct a thought based on what we wanted it to be and not what it actually was. Which is not necessarily a bad thing, I am thinking. After all, we are in the memory-making business, and I want to focus on the good stuff — the stuff that makes a difference or that inspires me to make a difference in someone else’s life.
Lenox Childhood Memories Ballerina Jewelry Box