If you could recover a single object from your past, what would it be?

When I was 16 years-old, I went to Pasadena, California with my high school's marching band to perform in the Rose Bowl Parade. At the time, I had just begun dating my high school sweetheart, Laura.

Laura was traveling to Pasadena, too. Though she wasn't actually a member of the marching band, she had somehow finagled her way to California to watch the performance and join us on our various excursions to Disneyland, San Fransisco, and others. 

Our first kiss came in a hot, stinking stairwell in a hotel in Pasadena at about 6:00 AM. I tell a story about it. 

Since we were taking separate flights across the country, Laura made me three mix tapes for the trip. I expected them to be filled with the music she adored, but instead, Laura combined music with spoken word. She told me stories, read poetry, and even sang a little in between songs recorded off the radio.

I probably fell in love with her while listening to those tapes somewhere over the Rockies.  

I don't know what happened to those tapes. It's unbelievable that I lost them, but somewhere along the way, I did.

A bout of homelessness will do that to a person.  

But if I could recover one object from my past that has been lost, it would be those yellow, Memorex cassettes.

Laura passed away a few years ago after a battle with cancer, but before she died, she held me to a promise that we made on the steps behind our high school just before we started dating. We promised that no matter what happened in our relationship, we would always be friends and always take care of each other. When she discovered that she had cancer, she brought me back to those steps and made me promise that when her girls, Ava and Tess, are old enough, I would tell them the stories of Laura, the teenager, and our adventures together.

I will do this when the time is right. but I can't imagine a better gift to those girls than those mix tapes, filled with their mother's words and songs from a time long ago.  

If I could recover any object from my past, it would be those tapes.

Not for me, but for Ava and Tess.  

And for Laura. 

If you could recover a single object from your past, what would it be?