Wednesday, January 21, 2015

A collection of memories

Vasastan Park, Stockholm Sweden  |  A collection of memories on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.com

When I began to travel beyond the confines of my home state (New York) and where I grew up (Virginia), the childhood need to collect things surfaced. The need to acquire something that perhaps makes no sense to anyone else but the collector, because the sheer quantity of their cumulative mass is pleasing—and perhaps secondly because they tie to something specific in the collector's (short) memory.

My need for "things" emerged in the form of slightly tacky and overwhelmingly useless snow globes. Every place I traveled that was new: whether a state, a large city, or a foreign country, demanded the acquisition of a ridiculously unaesthetic (as I see it now) plastic snow globe featuring something the place was famous for.

Of course at that age I thought they were incredibly sophisticated, in all their dust-collecting glory.

A shelf above my bureau and mirror housed this growing assembly and while they were impressive in their sheer number, as I got older I began to see them for what they were: an additional 30 minutes tacked on to my room-cleaning chore.

Somewhere around age 20 I had the idea to begin collecting something a bit more pretty, infinitely more useful, and hopefully a bit more representative of my travels: jewelry.

All those snow globes went into a box for the Salvation Army and on my next trip, during Spring Break of my third year at university when my mom and I took a vacation together to Turks & Caicos, I picked up a silver bangle that wrapped around the wrist and secured itself by one end bending around a small gold hook at the other end so that its fastener was actually part of the design. Perched next to the point of connection was a gold plumeria (also known as frangipani), a beautiful and fragrant indigenous tropical flower.

I wore that bracelet every day for many years—not only did I love the significance in its simplicity, but it made me feel a dash more exotic and reminded me of that week with my mom. So much more meaningful than a snow globe.

As my travels became more frequent and I began to acquire more pieces (and also rifle through my mom's jewelry whenever I was home), my collection grew and it was time to find a better way of storing my travel souvenirs, the pieces I inherited (swiped) from the women in my family, and the few things I bought for myself just because. So I found one of those standing armoires that opens to reveal a place for storing every type of jewelry, and as a bonus, the front door that you open is a mirror—highly functional and tidy.

When I moved to my first apartment after graduating it had a place of honor at the entrance to my walk-in-closet. When I went to Italy for the summer after meeting R and before moving back to New York it summered in my parents' sun room. When the movers broke it somewhere between Virginia and New York I used their reimbursement money to buy a new, better one (better because not only did the door open to reveal storage space, but the door itself had storage space!).

Karlbergssjön, Kungsholmen, Stockholm Sweden  |  A collection of memories on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.com

Seven years later it was time to leave New York, and the US, and the somewhat heartbreaking decision to sell all my heirloom furniture pieces had to be made. While we knew it was the right choice then, we know so even more after having left New York 10 months ago and we still don't have a more permanent place to live—I don't even want to think about how much it would have cost to move all that furniture here, store it for this long (and who knows how much longer) and then move it again. But still, I miss the familiarity of the pieces I grew up with and bought as a young adult (and the comfort of that beautiful bed!).

R, in all his infinite knowing-of-me abilities, knew all of that (perhaps not the story of my first non-snow globe souvenir though, in which case: ecco amore, ora lo sai!), this past Christmas he did one of the most thoughtful things he's ever done for me.

When it came time for me to open up my gift from him he pulled a red ribbon from behind the couch cushion he was leaning against. Completely confused (and mildly hoping it led to a puppy waiting in the bathroom—apparently I'm still ten years old!), I followed its trail out of the living room, across the hall, and into my in-laws' walk-in-closet where the end of the ribbon was wrapped around a cumbersome box as tall as me.

I heaved it into the living room near the tree and was, for once, completely in the dark. I had no idea what could possibly be in the box as I ripped off its paper and and tore at the staples securing its flaps closed.

Inside: a brand new jewelry armoire—something I hadn't even remotely suspected!

And, again showing how well he knows me, he didn't get it in the same oak tone as I used to have, but in an espresso stain, as he knows I'd (we'd) like to go for darker bedroom furniture when the time comes.

Since leaving New York I'd had all my jewelry stored in multiple small boxes collected inside one large fabric-covered one (that I'd made when I was 14) that was brought over on the plane with us and has been sitting smushed in with clothes all these months as we've moved around Stockholm. Meanwhile I'd been wearing the same few pieces since leaving New York.

Not since Christmas Day, though, as that morning R helped me assemble the armoire and I placed each piece of my jewelry collection behind its door—all of my souvenirs lined up together again.

* Leave a note (comment)

One year ago: The beginning of a yearning & Week 3
Two years ago: The Liebster Award & Pure Synergy & Monday meanders: 5

1 comment :

  1. i used to collect fridge magnets from different states as a souvenir but im so over that now..love the way you describe your memories.

    ReplyDelete

Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a note!

XOXO,
J.