I have a memory box. It is exactly what it sounds like; a box full of memories. My mom brought it up from storage today so that I could go through it and then add more stuff to it. It's all part of the terrible process called "I'm going to Uganda in a month and moving out of my childhood bedroom forever in which I have gained nothing short of a grotesquely appalling amount of shit and haven't seen the floor in over three months".
I started going through this process yesterday, and it mostly involved blaring LCD sound system and half-heartedly going through my ancient CD collection of Backstreet Boys, Nirvana, and other such classics. It came abruptly to a halt when I made a fascinating archeological discovery of old make up I used in middle school, consisting of a million of glittery tube applier things that I used to smear all over my face before going to school. Because having sparkles all over your face got me a ton of guys. Simple a=b equation. Anyway, I got sidetracked. Then, suddenly nostalgic. Then, I opened these 10 year old sparkly tubes and was completely fucking delighted to discover that they smelled EXACTLY how I remembered them to. Awesome. Then, I got more nostalgic and introspective because catching whiff of something from my past always has this transportive ability...more than any other sense, smell can take me right back. Then, I thought really hard about how I should probably throw away the obscene amount of glittery lotions, tubes, eyeshadows, and other gross shit that I used to smear all over my body when I was 13, but then decided that I simply couldn't.
This is why my life is in shambles. A deadly combination of a complete inability to be organized, hyper-nostalgia for inane objects, and a 5-second attention span always brings "cleaning" and "packing" processes swiftly to a halt within 7 minutes of beginning.
Anyway. Today my project of "ruthlessly" (as my mum says) going through my memory box so that I could add more stuff to it ended in a 2-hour spectacle in which I threw away 4 items out of 1200, and alternated between hyper-nostalgia and giddiness. DID YOU KNOW that I once wrote a magnificent story about going to Mars in a box, and spelled every word wrong?? DID YOU KNOW that I created a 50-page document in which I created 50 different English Projects just so that I could be a teacher and grade them in red marker? DID YOU KNOW that instead of completing 3 book projects in 3rd grade, I did 331? DID YOU KNOW that I got 99/100 on a test on dinosaur test and that the teacher wrote, "Ilse, your knowledge of the dinosaur kingdom is remarkable!"?? I AM REMARKABLE. Especially from ages 1-16.
In all seriousness, it's nice to know that somethings never change, despite how far I sometimes feel from the wide-eyed and imaginative girl I used to be. I think I still am her. According to my many report cards, although a complete book-worm and nerd, I somehow always managed to get comments about how I struggled to listen and pay attention in class. "In her own world," was a nice way to put it. Also, I spent much of my free time creating stories, poems, plays, and scenarios, in pen, pencil, and computer ink. With most words spelled questionably. I listed every friend that I had as my "best friend" and talked incessantly about pickles, soccer, dinosaurs, and jungles. My math skills, were "regrettable", and I didn't seem to quite grasp basic math principles, although apparently I always had a huge smile! I wrote about wanting to see the world and the children in far away places. I wanted to visit Jane Goodall in Africa and see her gorillas. I wanted to help others.
I think that seeing all of these reports, pictures, stories, and letters in this box have helped me, more than ever, to feel completely confident about my decision to do the Peace Corps. Simply put, it seems like something I would have wanted to do at age 6, and I think that's all that matters. When it comes down to it, I think the most important thing is to feel a connection with who I was as a kid, when I was full of love and curiosity and a wild imagination and had a jungle-themed bedroom. I never want to go too far from her. (Not so sure about the 12-13 year old sparkly-Ilse who listened to the backstreet boys, however)
I was feeling pretty bad these last few days about people I have fallen out of touch with or lost a connection with, but after looking through letters I received at age 5 from friends I still have today, I don't feel as bad.