Proof of adulthood?

Earlier this week I was busy digging through our files for, among other things, a birth certificate for the soon-to-be-registered kindergartner.

Rascal’s copy is kept in our fire-proof box--our miniature vault if you will. It’s not often we haul this thing out of the attic, so when we do I feel compelled to flip through the contents and dust off a few memories.

I purchased my first fire box at 18, and for years I caught all kinds of shit from roommates for hauling the heavy thing around every time I moved, which was at least every school year and sometimes twice during summer breaks. In hindsight, I see their point. I mean, what exactly did I have in my box? My birth certificate? (Wouldn’t that have stayed with my parents?) My precious high school graduation ring? (Did I even get a high school ring? I have no idea.) My report cards? (Trust me when I say the grades were not worth preserving.)

Somewhere along my path of growing up, I decided that living on my own required important documents and that these documents needed to be protected in case my home (or dorm, rather) went up in flames. Starting college without a fire box seemed as risky as starting without a fake ID.

So I had that little box through college, through my first couple jobs, through my wedding and through the first two babies. For more than 15 years it sat under my desk. Occasionally I opened it, but mostly I used it as a nice footrest.

Then a few years ago, when Hubby and I finally got our wills written up all lawyer-like, we realized the documents were too big to fit inside my trusty college box. So we replaced it with a beefy one that we filled with more proof that we are, in fact, grown-ups.

Or so you might think.

The big black box holds evidence that we are capable enough to marry, own cars and a house, and give birth to three babies with three names each. But yet, it also shows that we are barely holding together the grown-up image and that at any moment someone might discover we have no idea what we’re doing.

Want some details? Here's a complete inventory of our fire box:

  • Five original birth certificates and various copies for all five of us. (The fact that I ordered Smiley’s birth certificate before he is 2 makes me pretty proud.)
  • Two marriage licenses. One basic version and one fancy version. I’m pretty sure I paid extra for the fancy one. (Not sure why—maybe I thought I would frame it someday?? Ha.)
  • My official last will and testament plus medical directive. (These docs literally make me queasy looking at them.)
  • Hubby’s official last will and testament and medical directive. (All together these documents are about 2 inches thick.)
  • A handwritten will that we scribbled out on notebook paper the week before Rascal was born. (We found guidance after googling “Moron’s guide to writing your own will.”)
  • Four passports. (Damn, my photo is GOOD. Glad I don’t have to change it for 7 more years.)
  • Titles to both cars. (I hear my Pop right now: “Whatever you do, don’t leave this in your car!”)
  • Doodlebug’s immunization records from 2003. I probably thought I would be organized with this critical information, and even write it in her baby book. (Instead, I completely rely on the pediatrician to keep up with when and if my children need to be tortured with shots.)
  • Appraisal letters for the jewelry we gave each other as wedding gifts: a pearl necklace and a Tag Hauer watch. (Hmmm, apparently we never appraised our wedding rings or anything else we have purchased since 1997.)
  • Ten  ZIP-drive cassettes. (What the hell is on these and how would I even play them if I suddenly needed to see my backed-up documents from 1996?)
  • A delicate handkerchief that my grandmother embroidered. (I have others tucked away with my jewelry, but for some reason this one made it into the fire box. I don’t remember putting it in here.)
  • Three gold and silver coins from the 1983 Olympics. (Hubby and I cannot remember where these came from. Sheesh—see a pattern?)
  • The very first mixed-tape I made for Hubby. In 1988! Yes, it’s an actual tape and yes it contains all kinds of achingly romantic gems such as Madonna’s Crazy for You. (It truly is one of my favorite treasures. And no, we no longer have a tape deck to play it on.)

So that’s it. Our most precious items and solid proof of adulthood. At least technically speaking.