I've had the same corkboard during every move—all throughout Washington, California and now Texas.
Unfortunately, before my Senior year in high school, I thought nostalgia was for babies, so I mainly used it sparingly for drawings from my little brothers and the random photographs I came across.
That completely changed the night I attended the funeral of a friend.
It was the first time I had experienced death in such close proximity to myself. Her death was sudden and affected me for many ways I couldn't understand at the time, so I was extremely low that night.
The ceremony was beautiful and emotional but I spent most of it in a daze, which I was aware of as we sent her off holding thin white candles equipped with little paper skirts so the wax didn't drip on our hands.
I started to panic through the sobs because I couldn't handle the finality of the situation. I suddenly absolutely needed something to remember her by.
There it was in my hand, the little paper slip decorated with candle wax.
The next day I tacked it onto the cork board I had never found adequate use for before. It became the first in a collection devoted to my last year in high school and all of the most memorable moments there.
Oddly enough, I figured then it would be the last one—something special to commemorate a special era. So when I went off to college and lived in a dorm, I didn't think of its absence.
However, when I moved into my first apartment, I really wanted my own personal touch in my own official first place. I added the cork board more for that than any other reason.
Over time though, things just started to appear there. There wasn't anything specific to get the collection going like in high school, but I ended the year with a full Memory Board and a whole set of rules for what that entails.
1. Once something goes on there, it can't be taken off.
2. The items can't be selected for the board by someone else. Gifts end up on there, but I've got the final say.
3. The majority of the items need to be disposable.
4. When it's time to take it down, everyone who had a hand in an item on the board gets a thanks from me, whether or not they're in my life anymore.
All of these are totally essential to the essence of the board. Usually, they end up being things that I've found, given casually or are small enough to fit. This has been anything from receipts and business cards to crafts and Halloween costume accessories. The purpose of this is specifically so I don't get too hung up on the item itself.
The whole point of these memory boards is just so that I can still be reminded of the good, important moments when life seems mostly bad. Mental health can so often cloud my sense of reality, so these memory boards have become a sweet and easy way to keep myself tethered.
Now, I can sit back and reflect on the last four years, the people that made them happen, achievements I earned, fun nights that were had, and high and low points that serve as a timeline for the whole school year and the summer.
Although I need to change my timeline now to match calendar years rather than school years, the Memory Board has become a vessel of self-care, creativity, pride, nostalgia, and gratitude, and I can't wait for the ones in years to come.
Sophomore Year, 2015-2016
Junior Year, 2016-2017
Senior Year, 2017-2018