The boxes that hold my childhood memories and dreams

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The shell of my former hopes and dreams can be found in two bright orange Nike boxes.

One is filled to the brink with cheer bows of every color but most of them are forest green. I acquired these green bows every year at the start of a new cheer season for five years. A set of Jojo-Siwa-worthy rainbow bows that I got for Christmas occupy most of the box. 

One lone bracelet sits in the box as well. Five strips of black leather, two of them braided, are adorned with two shining silver cheer charms. I only wore the bracelet a couple of times, leading it to be stiff enough to feel brand new.

In the other Nike box, blinding white Nike competition cheer shoes create contrast against the ugly brown interior. These shoes have never been worn outside, which is pretty typical for competition shoes. You might think I might have found another use for them after two years, but I have not. 

I do not have the heart to use my retired cheer items for anything but keeping the memory alive.

Growing up, I went to my brother’s football games every weekend since he started playing. I would watch the cheerleaders in awe for the many evenings I found myself in the bleachers. When I reached third grade and was given the option to cheer, it was pretty obvious what I was going to do. I was going to cheer.

I appreciated every aspect of cheering: the bows, the white shoes, wearing my uniform every Friday, and so much more. The idea of being able to cheer from third grade to senior year was my ideal cheer experience.

I was going to cheer.”

Unfortunately for my younger self, that did not happen.

I thought I would be done with cheer after choosing not to sign up for sideline cheer in seventh grade. Then, the opportunity of competitive cheer knocked on the door of childhood ideals in my brain. I recalled my dreams of wearing big bows, winning competitions, and being on a team of amazing girls with impressive talents, and I acknowledged that I had to sign up.

Over the many weeks of practices, I made countless new friends and learned about how competitions functioned. We placed second and third in my initial two competitions, making me feel extremely satisfied with my improvements. 

I felt like sideline and competitive cheer were what I was meant to do, but I ended up not pursuing it. To this day, I am still confused about why I stopped. Maybe one day I will start again and try to live the dreams of my younger self.