When I was a kid, my dad worked for a custom home building company. He basically oversaw the entire development and managed the work that got done for beautiful homes that were designed to their owner's exact specifications.
The company built full-scale models of the homes and had interior decorators come in and make the houses beautiful. All of this was to give the idea of the possibilities that exist for buyers.
After all of the houses in the development had been sold, the model homes were sold to the highest bidder. Before they could be sold, though, all of the furniture, linens and decorations were auctioned off to employees of the company. My parents ended up with a lot of beautiful furniture in the years that my dad worked for this company as the minimum bid was 10% of the retail value -- at one point, they ended up with a beautiful solid oak coffee table and paid $35 for it.
One of the things my dad got for me in this process was a really pretty wooden box. It's painted a cream color and has gold edges with a design of vines and leaves on the top. As I've gotten older, I've appreciated the design a bit less, but I know I can always repaint it. I use it for letters - from my grammy, my friends, loved ones or special occasions.
This weekend, I've been purging my closet and dresser of unnecessary items and clothing. Papers that have no purpose are being recycled, objects I no longer use are going to the Good Will and other odds and ends are finding new uses or new homes. The one thing I didn't really count on was finding old love letters.
When I dated Jake, he did a stint in the Marines and spent three months in boot camp. I received several letters from him then, later on I received letters he had written with his future wife in mind - at that time, we were certainly planning on getting married. But now, now that I'm dating someone else, it feels so strange to even realize that I still have these letters tucked away in some crevice of some box that sits on some shelf in my closet.
I'm a bit torn - the nostalgic part of me would like to hold onto these, for the days when I'd like to remember, but it's been almost a year since I broke up with Jake, it's been six (wonderful) months dating Alex and I can't help but feel that hoarding these might be a bit disrespectful. Of course, there aren't only letters from Jake (I had a couple of admirers in high school, ha ha), but I don't feel any hesitation thinking of throwing them out.
Alex and I have talked about a future together in a very general sense, but I feel confident in the strength of our feelings and commitment we share. I just don't really know what I should do about these letters - the ones I've forgotten, the ones that aren't really relevant now. Part of me would like to keep them for a rainy day, to remember the lessons I've learned and experiences I've had that have gotten me where I am. Part of me thinks that past is gone, it's time to cherish memories and not hold onto paper momentos that might be disrespectful to my currenty sweetheart.
So I pose a question - to anyone reading this - what do you advise doing? Do you save letters from old beaus? Do you hang onto things from serious relationships to remind you of the relationship that you had?
I'm completely ambivalent about this . . . yet I feel like I need to decide something more definitive and I'm open to any advice.