Sentimental Belongings: The Stories Behind the Objects

I have four items from my youth displayed in my home.These things are different from the hand-me-downs I keep out of necessity, or the stuff I have stowed away in boxes. They're not really family heirlooms, but simply things that I acquired when I was a kid, and they've always made the cut when it comes time to move, clean out or give away. I only need to glance at these objects to see snapshots of days long past, feel waves of emotions long forgotten, and catch glimpses of the kid I used to be. So I keep them on display, and I think I always will.

Here are the stories of these four objects. What sentimental objects do you keep on display?

(Top from Left):

1. Afghan blanket, made by my grandmother for our family. She passed away when I was four. Whether I was cold, sick, or sleepy, this was the blanket I curled into. Though I'm now over 30, when I look at this blanket, I'm back in the 1980s, snuggled on my parents' couch, late on a summer evening, watching re-runs of Charlie's Angels and learning how to braid on the endless colored fringe. My mom had this blanket professionally cleaned, braided fringe and all, when I moved into my first apartment. Many moves and cleanings later, it lives on in a basket next to our couch, and comes out to comfort my own little kids.

2. Ambiguous bronze figurine. Growing up, my mom had this little figurine on her dresser, nestled alongside her scented lotions and jewelry boxes. I thought this figurine = womanhood. It was the epitome of glamour. And I have no idea why. The first time I redecorated my bedroom, age 11, I decided it was time to ask my mom if I could have this figurine to grace the dresser in my own bedroom. I was worried she would say it was too fragile, too special to her. To my utter shock, she just shrugged and said, "sure, honey". It's been on my dresser ever since. When I look at that little figurine, I'm reminded of the little girl I was: creative, shy, eager for bold adventure, trying to decode the mysterious world of adults. The funny part is, I'm still that same girl in a lot of ways. And I still think that figurine is pretty darn glam.

3. Poster of Miles Davis, photograph taken by Guy Le Querrec. I bought this poster on my very first trip to Paris when I was 19. It was a hard earned trip, and it was, simply, golden. For a few days, Paris and I really hit it off and every step was filled with that rare, tingling excitement of being in love. It made me incredibly bold. So bold, that after spotting this poster in a tiny shop window in St-Germain-des-Prés, I used my broken French to haggle the price with a cranky Parisian shop owner. This poster will always remind me to be bold, and that magical experiences are possible, though often fleeting. Indeed, the next trip to Paris was a freezing cold and gray shambles in which I learned that Paris, my great golden love, was just not that into me.

4. Vintage Pitcher: My dad bought this pitcher for me when I was 15. This was momentous for me because I have a very cool dad. As a young drummer in Chicago, he became friends with some of the greats, and he's an encyclopedia of good music. At 13, he told me to read Ferlinghetti to help my pre-teen angst. I read Sweet Valley High instead. I always knew my dad loved me, but I wasn't sure if he found my own tastes legit. So, when I came home one Saturday afternoon to find this pitcher on my bedroom desk, I was surprised when my dad told me that he bought it for me at an antique store because he knew I liked "vintage stuff". It was like, at that moment, I knew my dad thought I had pretty good taste, and that I was cool, too.

(Images:Julia Brenner)

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Julia is a writer and editor living in Chicago. She's also a big fan of old construction, new design, and people who can pull off a wink. She is not one of those people.