The box

Joining with Amber on Mondays for concretewords, where we practise writing by communicating the abstract through concrete things – a Horse, a book, stairs – and today The Box. These concrete words posts have led me on a journey through childhood and nostalgia and spiritual maturity – I write and that’s what comes out at the moment. Join me?

pink box

We returned home, sun-tanned and happy-tired and discovered that we’d been burgled.


We went from room to room, assessing the damage. The china set from Aunty had been dropped on the floor, still in the box, mainly in tact. They must have been interrupted.


I could hear my mother sobbing in her bedroom: the jewellery box with the dancing ballerina and her jewellery passed on from her mum was gone.


In the lounge, Dad found they’d taken all the CDs – apart from his copy of The Very Best of Shakatak, which wobbled alone in the empty CD rack. (That they should have exercised such quality control was as darkly humorous as it was insulting.)


I ran up the two flights of stairs to my attic room, raced to the cupboard in the corner and felt amongst the foam mattress and boxes – my £2,000 flute was still there. I had hidden it as a precaution. It was the only thing of value in my possession and it was safe.


I hugged it to my chest and quickly scanned the rest of the room – my favourite verses stuck with blutack above my bed, my crucifix, the poster of Richie from the Manic Street Preachers all eye-liner and bones, the scrumpled-up jeans on the floor, platforms worn down at the heel, my Forever Friends duvet cover. There were drawers hanging half-open, old train tickets, cards, earrings in disarray, books flung on top of files, more books balanced on piles of unwashed clothes.


I exhaled, relieved. It was just as I had left it. Perhaps they had not come up this far.


And then I noticed something different on my candle shelf. There was something awry in the mix of coloured wax blobs and burnt matches. Next to my bootlegged Suede and Blur tapes – it should have been there. I was sure I had left it there.

I checked – it was gone: a small pink box with a metal heart-shaped lock, crammed with various treasures and all my diaries written at primary school.


It was just a silly little pink plastic box. Why had they even taken it?


I pictured them, balaclavas off, cracking it open, sifting then discarding – no, worse – reading and sniggering.


I am the only one allowed to laugh at my devoted scribblings, my juvenilia. I am allowed to cringe at the exclamation marks and doodled hearts – you are not. I am allowed to laugh at these because I laugh with fondness, a protective indulgence of my seven-year-old self.

Ten sums on the board today – takeaway sums as usual and BORING days and she broke friends with me again today, left alone in the corner of a field; and roller skating on proper roller boots, red with blue stripes; and I wonder if he’ll marry me; I sat on a cold step outside the basement at school and there was no fairy at the bottom after all. These rainbow-coloured biro entries written small with the small things of life.


There was now only a blank, dustless spot on the foil with the candles.


I sat on the bed with my flute case heavy in my lap. I had hidden the wrong thing.


Over to you:

  • Did you keep a diary as a child? What were your ‘small things written small’?


Health update: Well. My GP said, “let’s do this logically” and after all the blood tests and chest X-rays had come back normal, and I was still unable to say more than two words without gasping for breath and having to grip onto the walls, we cut out a medication i had been taking for a while. i told her it wouldn’t be that, because i had never had side effects on it before – but it was, and now we’re a week on and i am feeling SO much more human, a normal amount of ill. I can breathe again! Being able to breathe is good. i am so relieved – and so thankful to all who were praying. I am still waiting for an appointment with my ME specialist, and still need to chase them up about their administrative snafu that meant i was lost in the system, but at least i know that it’s not as urgent as it was before. I can wait a little longer. Fear has given way to hope, and it’s bubbling out everywhere. THANK YOU for your prayers.

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31 Responses to The box

  1. Ashley @ Draw Near 4th February, 2013 at 5:18 pm #

    Tanya, first, I am praising God for your health report! That is such good news.
    Also, I wanted to tell you how moved I was by your telling of this story. It was so painful — I realized I’d hidden the wrong thing…oh, this hit me in the gut, for how I’ve done this. I also felt right along with you your loss and protection of childhood you and the violation of your home. So powerful. How good to meet up with you at Amber’s again.

    • Tanya 5th February, 2013 at 12:35 pm #

      You always GET it! I love that you always get it, and that you retell it back to me in a way that makes it sound really good. Thank you. I was a bit rubbish about visiting the other concrete worders last week, but I am onto it today… Much love to you- I really appreciate you cheering me on as I learn to write better.

  2. Karmen White 4th February, 2013 at 5:11 pm #

    LOL, loved this post! I laughed and sighed right along with you! I was also sad and angry on you and your Mums behalf.

    Glad to hear your a bit better.

    Love K

    • Tanya 5th February, 2013 at 12:36 pm #

      Thank you! I’m glad you saw the funny bits too – they were definitely there! 🙂

  3. Jillie 4th February, 2013 at 3:48 pm #

    Hi Tanya…Sooo happy to hear you are breathing easier…and feeling generally better! An answer to prayer!
    Loved the description of your attic bedroom, leading me to believe they’d roughed-up your belongings, only to find that this was the way your room normally looked! Made me laugh out loud!
    Yes, I kept one journal when I was 13 and 14 years of age. Mostly I wrote about ‘Gary’, the curly-headed blonde cutie-pie who refereed my little brother’s hockey games. I went to every game…not to support my brother…but to lay eyes on GARY!!! One day, in front of company, my mean-spirited Dad demanded to see my diary! I pleaded with him, but he continued to insist I bring it to him. I hurried to my room, grabbed my precious diary, and proceeded to quickly tear out any page I saw that referenced to Gary. Took said diary to my Dad, like the dutiful daughter I was, and he laughed at me. Said he didn’t really want to read it. All this through my tears.
    Needless to say, I stopped keeping a diary. NOW, years later, I have an entire Rubbermaid container FULL of my writings. I prayer-journal as well. (I have a wonderful husband now, who has NEVER attempted so much as a peek into what I write for myself. My journals are one of my most prized possessions!)

    • Tanya 5th February, 2013 at 4:29 pm #

      My stomach got all twisted up reading your story about your diary… Ach. In front of company and everything? It feels like such a violation when your diary is involved. I’m so pleased that your husband understands.

      And I’m so glad that you laughed at the description of my room – let’s just say I’m very blessed to be married to someone who’s tidy!

  4. Mark Allman 4th February, 2013 at 3:37 pm #

    Great to hear the health news!! I will continue to pray.

    • Tanya 5th February, 2013 at 4:30 pm #

      Thank you. I so appreciate your partnership in prayer.

  5. Mark Allman 4th February, 2013 at 3:35 pm #

    “I sat on the bed with my flute case heavy in my lap. I had hidden the wrong thing.” These words made me want to cry and made me angry and them for taking and sorry for you not having.

    Oh Tanya…. are we “hiding the right things today” especially in our heart? I don’t want us to discover we were hording the wrong thing in our soul. We should check.

    • Tanya 5th February, 2013 at 4:31 pm #

      Are we hoarding the wrong things in our soul?

      I LOVE this question – it takes what I was thinking onto a whole new level. LOVE it.

  6. Amber C Haines 4th February, 2013 at 3:21 pm #

    Oh I would be so sad if my childhood diaries had been taken. I’m so glad you wrote this one out.

    Thank you, friend.

    • Tanya 5th February, 2013 at 4:35 pm #

      Thank you, Amber! I so appreciate these prompts and your writing. I am sitting at your feet and learning more all the time.

  7. Nick 4th February, 2013 at 3:18 pm #

    One of my all-time-favourite song lines is, “memories will be our souvenirs”.

    • Tanya 5th February, 2013 at 4:36 pm #

      Me like. There’s a lot in those simple words.

  8. Mia 4th February, 2013 at 2:44 pm #

    Oh Tanya
    This is sooo precious. Yes, my friend, they have stolen fond memories of you about yourself … little memories that means the world to you!!! It truly was the wrong box you have hidden, but I am glad that a lot has been hidden in your heart! I am so glad that you are better and I am still praying for you. I am just so glad that you are able to write again for I missed your friendly smile when you were not well enough to write.
    Much love XX

    • Tanya 5th February, 2013 at 4:37 pm #

      Thank you! Just writing those phrases from my diary made me realise that although the words are lost, by writing the, down they are less lost to me than I thought. Many of them are still floating around my brain.

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