So, we were talking about first loves . . .
Mine, sigh, was a box. A cardboard box. Not just an ordinary cardboard box, but a refrigerator box that my father brought home in his pickup truck and put out on the back lawn for "you kids" to play with.
And play with it we did, one kid clambering into the box while the others (there were always kids around, weren't there?) folded down the flaps and began shoving at the box until it flopped over once and then over again, over and over, around the yard until the kid inside was stunned with tumble and all the other kids fell in a laughing heap to the ground.
And then it was someone else's turn.
I don't remember much of being on the pushing end, just a vague memory of a wall of cardboard with no place to hold on to and a sudden, painful jab to the belly from shoving on a corner that wouldn't be shoved.
But inside the box . . . well, that was heaven: the sudden darkness with slashes of light angling through the flaps; the odd quiet, how the outside sounds were strangely muffled; the musty, clean-cardboardy smell; the dry shushing smoothness against my bare legs; the tremors and heart race of that first push; the soft, rolling landings inside a safe and papery cocoon.
I don't remember ever making forts or buildings of these boxes. I only remember that huge thing on the lawn growing more battered and limp with each round, finally collapsing in on itself. By and by, the remains would somehow magically disappear. And one day a new box would just as magically reappear!
You don't forget a first love. And you don't let go of it too easily, either. Which may explain my passion to this day for boxes and cartons and just about any other sort of container. These things that once held other things—what potential they have to yet again hold other things, surprising things they weren't intended to hold. You never know what a box might contain. One still holds this young girl's heart.
Nancy Carol Moody
I'm a poet and a letter-writer. Yup, that kind. The kind who uses pens and paper and actual stamps. The kind who will leave the house with nothing on the agenda but to get to the mailbox before the scheduled pick-up time. The kind who understands that technology is a wondrous thing, but nothing quite beats finding a real letter with a real stamp on it amid the credit card solicitations, pizza coupons and seminar catalogs.