The Things we Keep

by Zoe Byszynski

Caroline’s memory box. Includes: dinner receipts, dried plants, and her treasured Gelato spoon.

In my room, in my closet, on my shelf, in a box is my time capsule. I created it at the start of the pandemic and promised myself I wouldn’t open it until graduation. Over the years I’ve added ticket stubs, birthday cards, gum wrappers, and other treasures lost to my short-term memory. Outside the box, outside my closet, and in my room, similar treasures line my walls, shelves and desk. Photos of friends, broken bracelets, dried flowers. Nothing useful, nothing unimportant.

Throughout our lives, we accumulate and hoard. The small everyday objects that we don’t think twice about, suddenly become so significant when we threaten to throw them away. (That, or we’re all due for a little spring cleaning.)

Caroline Urdina, a senior film major from Frank Sinatra School of the Arts (FSSA), also keeps a memory box. Inside her box, she keeps a Gelato spoon from a date with her boyfriend.

“Keep the small things, even if they’re stupid. I’ve been told so many times by my mom to throw it out and my brother’s like ‘That’s gross’ but I don’t care because if it means something to you, that’s all that matters,” Caroline says. “I don’t plan on ever getting rid of it. Even if we’re not forever or if we’re together a hundred years in the future, I don’t care. It’s very special.”

Nicholas Rimalovski, a senior vocal major at FSSA, keeps a baseball glove from his first ever season, when he was only four years old, given to him by his grandfather. He leaves it by his other baseball belongings, as a reminder before he plays for the Frank Sinatra Legends baseball team.

“Baseball has always been like a big part of my life. It’s been kind of an escape for me. The two and a half hours on a baseball field, nothing else really matters, because I’m playing a game. And the outcome is what matters to me. And it just reminded me of where I got that hobby, that release from, and to maintain that dedication because it just reminded me that I’ve been doing it for that long. It’s not just something that I picked up on a random Friday afternoon. I want to be reminded, especially now that it’s my last year playing high school baseball, of how long I’ve been doing it,” says Nick.

FSSA senior film major, Lucy Karp, has a fishbowl from Israel that also serves as a reminder of personal change and growth. It was one of her first purchases on her solo trip to Israel last summer.

“I think that before I wasn’t really connected to Israel and my Judaism, but going there alone and buying something that was reflective of my trip and everything I learned on that trip was very transforming. I think I’m a much more independent person now,” says Lucy.

It’s the memories we make with the objects that are important, rather than the objects themselves. They serve as reminders of how we’ve changed from who we were when we received the objects

As senior year is coming to a close, and the bittersweetness of goodbye starts to form on my tongue, I look at all that I have to leave behind and choose carefully what I keep. No college dorm room is big enough to keep the memories of the four most defining years of my adolescence. When we reach the point where we can no longer turn back, but only look around, what’s the best rearview mirror?

PJ’s inscribed Leatherman tool, given to him during his senior year as a student at FSSA.

Perhaps the answer is with someone who’s already taken the journey out of school, into undergrad, into the workforce and has found himself right back where he started. Patrick Thompson Jr., better known as PJ, is an alumni of Frank Sinatra who graduated in 2016 as a Film Major and crewmember. Now PJ works with his old teacher, Andre Vazquez, FSSA’s Assistant Production Manager.

PJ received an engraved leatherman from Andre as a departing gift to all the senior crewmembers. 

“It’s a reminder that everyone who has one of those is kind of connected at a level that isn’t really gonna go away. To me, I feel like memories fade and items become useless eventually. But I think just taking the time that you had with you, taking the changes that you went through and the person you became through experiences, taking that with you is more important than any item or idea in my head. I think just learning to take change with you anywhere you go and continue to grow, taking that mindset,” says PJ.