For today’s Bright Side we’re dipping into our mailbag (which I swear is just brimming over with submissions). Loyal reader Rebecca K. (names changed to protect the innocent) writes in:
Someone broke into my car yesterday at the dog park and stole my purse from where it was hiding under the passenger seat. Some of its contents included two credit cards, one debit card, my Whole Foods frequent burrito-buyer punchcard, my shades, and an awesome Beastie Boys mixtape I’ve had for 12 years. Long story short, these people run around and take out $1000 in 20 separate cash advances. They also buy $300 worth of cigarettes at the Tobacco Plus, gas up their car at the 7-11, and rent a Redbox DVD. So tell me, what is the bright side to shitty people who do shitty things to very nice, hardworking people? Especially to a poor starving artist like myself?
First things first, our most sincere condolences to Rebecca for having to go through this ordeal. Getting stolen credit cards replaced is indeed a royal pain in the junkstuffs. But the worst part about getting your car broken into, as Ms. K. points out, is the stuff that isn’t so easily replaced, the stuff that holds a more personal value. The shades. The Beastie Boys mixtape. Those are things that undoubtedly evoke an emotional response, that call to mind a specific set of memories. And those things are hard to say goodbye to, especially when you don’t really have a chance to say goodbye at all.
I can actually relate to this pretty directly, as I had my car broken into a few months back. Among the few things stolen were two books of CD’s that had been sitting in my trunk for two years, containing CD’s I bought in High School that I hadn’t listened to in ages. But then, suddenly, they were gone. And even though they hadn’t been a part of my life in a long time, I suddenly found myself longing to listen to them again, full of mourning for the fact that I would never have the chance to rediscover those CD’s again.
There are two bright sides to this, really: On the one hand, it was only in losing all of those CD’s that I rediscovered my appreciation for them. I spent the next few weeks looking up songs on Youtube and marveling in hearing them again for the first time in years. But on the other hand it made me realize that you can’t hold on to things like these forever. Eventually those shades would have broken. Eventually the Beastie Boys mixtape would have gotten worn-out, or stepped on, or lost. Material things like these, no matter how full of memories they are, never last forever. Eventually we have to let go of the tangible things that hold meaning for us, if only to make room for new things. But the feelings those things evoke aren’t going anywhere, no matter how many times they break into your car.
So, Ms. K, take solace in the fact that one day soon you’ll have a new pair of shades and a new burrito-buyer punchcard. And maybe some kind soul will make you another Beastie Boys mixtape (or would have, if some imbecile hadn’t stolen all of his goddamn CD’s from the trunk of his car), and eventually you’ll come to love that one as much as you loved the first. There will be new things to cherish, and new memories to make with them. And think of how wonderful it will feel when you finally find that new pair of shades or that new favorite album, as though it had been waiting there for you for ages, waiting for you to find it. And as for the things you’ve lost, what will end up sticking with you won’t be the feeling of your privacy being invaded, it won’t be the memory of seeing your window smashed. No, those memories will fade. What will remain will be the memory of the way those things used to make you feel once upon a time. You’ll smile to yourself, shake your head a little at the memory of something long-gone, and then you’ll move on. Because that’s what we do.