An Open Chest: Hidden Favorites

“I prefer the mystic clouds of nostalgia to the real thing, to be honest.”

Robert Wyatt

 When I turned sixteen, I received a gift that I had wanted since childhood: a hope chest. I had spent my life up to that point exploring the memories of my mothers’, and wanted my own.

This morning, as I sifted through the old hope chest in search of a few of my favorite things, I found myself now eight years older, eight years more weathered. The sun has kissed and lined my face, and I no longer hold the same innocence as I did on that sixteenth birthday. But the old, sweet, familiar smell of the chest captivated my senses, and with my cup of coffee safely beside me, I went digging for treasure.


This little black dress originally belonged to my grandma, which she passed on to my mother, which was then passed down to me. The story goes that my grandma bought it to wear on her twenty first birthday, but never got the chance. She was pregnant.

The crocheted masterpiece is not only deliciously vintage, but smells of memories – of time. My twenty-first birthday has come and gone, and I have yet to even try the dress on. Maybe I’m scared. Maybe I feel a pressure. Either way, I keep it tucked away with a vow: That I will someday don the dress and put my print on it, before giving it to my (future) daughter.

My mother wearing the dress in her late teens.

The Book Of Lies

I was in Eighth grade when I got this book. And I was also a liar.

We were studying WW2, and our teacher gave us each a copy of Bat 6 to read and keep. After finishing the book, it was announced that the author was coming to our school to sign our copies.

The day came … and pandemonium ensued! We ran around like mad children about to meet our first legitimate celebrity! When my turn was about to be taken, a fear struck me: What was I going to say to her? What was I going to have her write in my copy of the book? This book, after all, was about race & prejudice, but it was also about softball. And I didn’t play softball. How could I not play softball? I thought. I must be a softball player!

So the line moved, and I stepped up the the table. There was this author, Virginia Euwer Wolff, before me … and I had to think of something.

Hello – she said.

Hi – says me – I … I play softball.

Oh you do? That’s great. What position?

… Oh crap. Oh crap.Why do I never think these lies out before I say them?? Okay, just relax. What position can you remember reading about in the book?

And then my answer came. And I got my book signed. A lie immortalized in ink.

The Timer

I really hope you’re not expecting all of these things to be sentimental. They’re not.

Take this timer, for instance. It didn’t belong to my great relatives, or cross oceans to become the first timer to ever be used. There is no book dedicated to it, or songs written.

Nope. It’s just an old, wind-up timer given to me years ago by my parents. I kept it, as I do most random things I receive, for a rainy day when I would perhaps need a wind-up timer for a cake I’m baking. Or for the eggs I’m boiling. While it hasn’t been used yet, I just don’t see the point in getting rid of it when I’ve held onto it for this long anyway.

World Peace

I was a bit dramatic back in the day — and highly anxious about world peace. I cried when I saw people littering, and wanted to just die when someone was mean to another. The answer, I happened upon one day while contemplating life, was very simple: write a letter to “a good human willing to stick up for the world!”

The letter inside is now long gone. I guess I decided that I was the person best suited for the job. But finding this little Lisa Frank envelope reminded me how passionate about my convictions I once was. I believed in peace, in beauty, in good. The world to a child — the world through innocent eyes.

A few of my favorite things, kept safely in a hope chest. Stuffed to the max, it is easy to forget some of the memories hidden inside — which is why days like today are amusing and brilliant. Sorting through years and years of my life, through pictures, clothes, old letters, even envelopes. Memories are so very enchanting.

But I was not allowed to forget that there are new favorite things to be found in that old chest of mine …

Hikari, my most favorite thing.


17 thoughts on “An Open Chest: Hidden Favorites

  1. I have a wooden chest very similar to the one you have (except mine has an image of a frog engraved onto a copper plaque on the front), but I still haven’t decided what to put into it! 🙂

  2. I smiled when I read this post…..something that I have struggled to do these last few days while dealing with pain and upcoming surgery. I always wanted a hope chest too. Thank you for this and keep on going.

  3. Last summer, my parents brought me a box of my stuff, leftover from when I moved out years ago. It is amazing how things you didn’t even remember keeping can evoke such powerful memories when you see them again…

  4. Your story about Virginia Wolff had me howling with laughter. Hey is anything from me in your hope chest *bats eye lashes*
    “re the DNC” I was thinking about talking to you about that! I don’t know why but I kept thinking about you when I was watching it on tv. They have so much stuff blocked off here and it’s so confusing about where you can go and where you can’t and they blocked off the street where I go walking-which sucks. But I have to admit it is exciting that they’re here.


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