• chantalmcanales

I Collect The Smallest Of Memories, And You Should Too

Fifty years from now, when I'm wrinkled and gray, I'm not going to only look at pictures from "back in the old days." I'm going to look through my old memory boxes and remember all the things I did in my life.


Call me a hoarder, but I collect the smallest of memories. Everything from old movie ticket stubs, boarding passes, notes from friends, and birthday cards. Even though some ticket stubs are so faded that I can't read what movie I watched a couple of years, I keep it close to my heart.


In my pastel-pink Paris box, I began to collect things. Small post-its I would stuff into the front of a binder, used maps of cities I've been to, and printed pictures of friends that I miss. Call me a hoarder, but down the line, I'm going to appreciate what I did so I can remember my early life.


An old Italian-themed box in the form of a hollow book holds all my academic memories. Certificates of accomplishment from middle school, medals from earning good scores on state exams, and yearbooks from an awkward stage in my life. I can open the pages of the yearbooks and see who my friends were, look onto the pictures of classmates, and wonder what they are up to now.


I want to think that photographs can capture my life at a certain time. But I don't want to rely on pictures to remember the big milestones. Graduations, birthdays, my wedding, the birth of my first child...


These are all things that can be remembered by photos.


But keeping my high school graduation tassel will take me back to that moment, on the stage in front of my entire school, accepting my diploma after four hard years of work. I kept a flower from a bouquet of flowers my parents sent me when I studied abroad in Budapest to remember my shock and surprise to feel their love from thousands of miles away.


I collect the old maps and all the museum guides of places I travel to. They hold a story that can't always be remembered. A time where I conquered the London Tube or was touched by the Anne Frank House and its history. Memories hold an emotion that I still struggle to capture with my camera lens.


When I began my study abroad trip, I collected small little things like the tram pass from Prague or the bus ticket from the airport in Budapest. My new friends questioned why I would sneak the coaster of a restaurant into my purse or a placemat from a cafe. When I explain to them what I do with them, they stare, questioning my actions or in disbelief. But nothing beats a free souvenir from a place you visit.


As I shopped for my freshman dorm, I knew I had to get a box for my room to collect memories of my first year at Baylor. The grey Ikea box quickly filled up with Dr. Pepper float cups, Baylor football game buttons, and my KXA silver pin found their home in that memory box and in my heart forever.


So I will continue to keep track of movie stubs of the terrible movies I watch. I won't stop storing old boarding passes in the back of my journal for safekeeping. Later in my life, I can piece all of these memories together and tell a tale that can finish the holes that photographs regret to share.


And I can't wait to tell that story.