The top layer of my jewelry box is pretty standard. A few bracelets, a thin gold necklace from my mother, a silver one from my best friend. A Mother of Pearl ring, left to me by my grandmother, which I love but worry too much about losing to wear every day.
But lift the removable, velvet-lined wooden top shelf of the box out, and the contents are much different. A pair of earrings, which I absolutely hate, given to me by a man I broke up with three years ago. The wine cork from a special evening last Spring with a a guy I quickly fell in and then out of love (and subsequently, out of touch) with. A handful of scribbled phone numbers and business cards, which apparently I thought might have sentimental value someday, were I to ever go out with the people who gave them to me again. And a single button, freed from the collar of an Oxford shirt one night, and then found post-fling-mortem, months later, underneath my bed.
It is a veritable failed-relationship graveyard.
I don't know why I insist on keeping these items. I don't take them out, handle them lovingly and reminisce. Mostly, I avoid looking at them, unless I've lost, say, my keys or dry-cleaning ticket and feel the need to completely overturn my room, including my jewelry box just in case it somehow got in there. Unsurprisingly it almost never has, and I end up wasting twenty minutes poring over reminders of boyfriends past.
I keep telling myself I'll get rid of them. I regularly give away clothes I don't wear and shred paperwork I don't need--there is no reason to hold onto these things. They don't symbolize largely pleasant memories. Though, for the most part, any hurt associated with them has faded to mere annoyance, I recognize that they're not serving me positively. And yet, each time I go through my jewelry box's bottom layer, I can't seem bring myself to throw them out.
Perhaps if I were still angry with any of the men behind the souvenirs, I would get something out of burning these items or tearing them up. But I'm not--I just don't appreciate them. I don't appreciate their random texts or their comments on my Facebook status. I don't appreciate running into them at the farmers market (my farmers market!) or the coffee shop where I go to write. With so many irritating reminders in this creepily small city, you'd think I'd just throw out their stupid business cards and ugly earrings already.
But something keeps me from tossing them out. Probably the same thing that keeps me from unfriending the people they represent, both virtually and in real life. And as soon as I figure out what that thing is, I'll throw them away, I promise. Meanwhile, thank God for the hide button.