I am sentimental— or perhaps overly sentimental. I tend to put value even on the most mundane things. The cake-topper off my 18th birthday? I still have it. Letters? Tickets? Invitations? I keep them all. Mom, thinks I’m hoarding worthless objects, but for me, it’s just the right amount of being a sentimentalist. There is beauty in keeping mementos in order to look back and commemorate whenever you want to. Everything’s an artifact, and in my life, anything could be a time capsule.
Everything is an artifact for a memento hoarder
Clutters and all sorts
I started collecting mementos, clutters, and all sorts back when I was in Senior Highschool—the first time I had a room of my own. The room was just small (sort of like an attic), but it meant liberty for me; a place where I could finally do the things I want in peace or solitude—ornament the place with posters and all. It was a personal space, a haven. And so, having that place also meant being finally able to have a space where I could store my things, cause back then, I only have a drawer in our living room.
By that time, I was in Grade 11. The culmination of the long-span era called ‘high school’, started to happen. On our campus, there were always activities and events where they give out invitations, tickets, or souvenirs. We were also so fond of having events about giving out letters to fellow students. They were giving out keychains, bookmarks, and other freebies. Needless to say, during those time, I relentlessly collected every memento. Every card, every Post-It note, every memorabilia, and every handout from any event ever. Why? Because it reassured me that, even if I forget a moment now, I’ll have a tangible object to give me a lovely memory in the future. Plus, I wasn’t the only one doing it, my classmates were doing it too. We devoted boxes packed with trinkets and miscellaneous notes from as far back as when we were 17. It was fun!
I store it all in a shoe box—all the clutters I collect and keep. I call it a memory box, completely ornamented! One of the boxes has a big “MEMORY BOX” label on top, studded with gemstones—now that’s extra! I used to keep it in my drawer, along with my clothes, but now that I have a bigger room, I keep it on my shelf, along with my books. Eventually, as the years passed, one box turned into three. As one filled, I needed to provide another one for all the mementos. So now I have three shoe boxes full of thousands of memories!
Inside these shoe boxes, I also categorize or organize items. I have envelopes in different sizes, completely labeled for the types of mementos I have. Tickets, photos, invitations/souvenirs, letters, academic remembrances—right now, these are the labels or categories I have. These labels also have a corresponding year. Each box actually represents a certain year, but sometimes, I forget and just jumble them up.
How did these mementos help me?
It might be hard to believe, but these three shoe boxes are integral to my life. They offer me stability and comfort whenever I need them. How so? Well, in a lot of ways.
Sometimes, I get into a hazy zone in my life—feeling like everything is moving too fast. It’s during these moments when I pull out the memory boxes to skim, read letters and remember. All of the contents that make up the past few years are beginning to jumble together. I have no doubt that they will fade further because that’s just how life goes. But as I look back and remember the huge chunks of my life, times that I’m sure were crucial in my development, it somehow puts confidence within me that I can make it through, no matter what. These mementos are life’s way of telling me “you’ve come a long way” and “look at all the people that have taught you a thing or two.” It’s completely reassuring and empowering. I guess there is fuel in nostalgia.
Sometimes, they also make a good distraction or timewaster. It’s undeniable that reminiscing memories is entertaining and addictive. The mementos are not just there whenever you feel down or stressed, because basically, they are always there. You can take a trip down memory lane whenever you want to, regardless of what you feel. And I guess that’s also one of the beauties of this whole act. On the other hand, hoarding mementos also means looking forward to what to take out from a certain event—what mementos am I going to be able to retrieve? Because if we don’t memorialize the trip, did it really happen?
I started hoarding mementos when I was around 17, and now I’m 22 years old. Even at this age, I am swept up in the spinning and rotating, and orbiting of life. Each minute is fleeting; I blink and I lose another one to the past. But with the presence of my memory boxes, I have this sort of weapon to gravitate me back to reality whenever I feel like I’m drifting away.
Xian Oquendo is a free-spirited writer and camera-person from Manila. His passion connects facets of poetry and visuals. Whether inside the cinema or in the groove of the city's streets, he is always in the pursuit of the transcendental.