This is seven years worth of memories. In this box, I kept notes, letters and scribbles that were once the most important things in my life. Were.
The items in this box are from my first love, like the first Valentine’s Day card he gave to me back in 2003. Back then, First Love was just the nice boy who’d smile at me from afar. I was “kind of” with another boy who treated me like crap. On that day, I saw that boy make a Valentine’s Day card and because I was “kind of” with him, I thought the card was for me. It wasn’t. It was for a girl in another class. Before I left school and had the chance to cry my heart out on my pillow, First Love walked up to me every so shyly and handed me a red envelope. In it was a Hallmark Valentine’s Day card and on it was written a poem about how much he wanted to be my friend. It was the best Valentine’s Day I’ve ever had.
There are two #1 candles inside as well. Those are from the cake he surprised me with when we celebrated our 11th month together. There’s a reason why that cake was bought from the store and not homemade. When we celebrated the month before for our 10th, he baked a cake. He didn’t know how to bake a cake. He ran out of flour and figured that he could just put double the amount of cocoa to make up for it. The cake tasted like dirt. We spent the whole afternoon in school that day, fooling people into taking a bite and then laughing at how some would unashamedly spit it back out and how others would actually pretend to like it. When we ran out of people to fool, we finished the whole thing with the help of our friends.
Inside the white plastic bag is the sash that was given to me when I became prom queen. Prom night fell on the same day as our first anniversary so First Love decided to do something big for me. He knew we were going to “win” because everyone knew it was our anniversary but just to be sure, he approached people and asked them to vote for us. After we were crowned, I turned to leave the stage but then he told me to sit on the chair. And then, in front of our 90 or so schoolmates, he sang She by Elvis Costello. I thanked him by punching his arm after he finished the song. I don’t react well to surprises, you see. It was the boldest thing anyone has ever done for me. And when I came home that night, I looked at the sash one last time and put it in that white plastic bag. I never held it since. It had too much glitter and I hated glitter.
The colored rolls of paper were given to me that same night, after he sang to me and after I punched him. In each paper, he wrote down a reason for why he loved me. There are 100 rolls of paper. The first one reads, “I love you because of who you are.” The last one reads, “I love you because of who we are when we’re together.”
Eventually, we stopped loving who we were when we were together. Or rather, we couldn’t love who we had become the longer we stayed together. And so we broke up.
That was three years ago.
Yesterday, I decided to empty this box. Using my mom’s paper shredder. It wasn’t done out of anger or bitterness. We may have gone our separate ways but I will always, always wish him well the same way I know he wishes me well.
Believe it or not, it was done out of love. Love for the good five years I spent with him. I’ve decided to say goodbye to the memories of First Love this way because it’s the only way to keep what we had always just between the two of us and no one else.
And you know what? Love for myself. I did it out of love for myself. Because maybe, just maybe, the reason why I kept this box around is to remind me that I was once loved the way all girls want to be loved. And I’ve come to realize that that’s such a terrible reminder.
In the future, when love comes around and hopefully chooses to stay, I want to be loved the way I want to be loved. I want to be loved the way I deserve to be loved, the way I’m supposed to be loved… not the way I was loved in the past.