This Nostalgia Tastes Likes Cardboard...

Just a box...

There’s a certain giddy feeling that we all get when we see emails from loved ones, friends, or family.  Especially living abroad, where email has replaced the written letter, it’s nice to know people are thinking of you.

But the emails can get a little sad.  You can’t touch them. You can’t hear them.  They are easily deleted and forgotten.  There is another form of communication, however, that evokes much more true emotion than my Gmail account.  Cardboard.  It’s nostalgic.  It’s unequivocally full of love like an email can never be.  You don’t think so?

Whenever my mother sends me a package, it’s always in a cardboard box. Be it cooking supplies, Halloween candy, or the most recent carton full of Tasty Kake pastries, the cardboard is an immediate signal that, “Hey, someone’s thinking of you!”  Envelopes sometimes have this effect, but it’s hard to get nostalgic about a letter when the phone bill comes in similar packaging.

A cardboard box is unique.  Since I avoid online shopping, I know that a box means something special. And more than the contents, it’s a tactile way to communicate with my family.  I know that my mom probably found the box in the garage, using tape and paper from my dad’s office supplies to close it up and label it.  I can see where she pressed the tape and where she didn’t, leaving little air bubbles between the cardboard and the clear adhesive.  I can see her scribbling the address on the envelope, taped securely to the top.  I envision watching her go to the post office, weighing it, possibly lying about its contents to avoid major customs fees, and then sending it off on its way. 

Cardboard paired with
Then she waits, for about a week, until I call from Paris, thanking her, mouth usually full of whatever candy, cookie, or cake was stashed inside.  No matter how many croissants or Lindt’s chocolate bars you have in Paris, there’s something about a Tasty Kake and a Reese’s cup that I can’t deny. 

Call me a packrat because I always thought I saved these boxes, folded carefully, under my bed just in case I’d have to move one day.  And boxes can be expensive in Paris, oddly enough.  But no, instead, it’s probably the sentimental factor.  Since everything inside the boxes gets eaten, the only tactile thing left from these cherished packages is a bit of cardboard, chosen and sent with care from across the ocean. 

You can’t just throw that away, right?