The story of my most prized possession is a difficult one to tell because there are many things I prize quite highly. I’ve never been able to choose a single thing I love more than all others.
As a kid, whenever someone asked what one thing would I grab if my house were burning and I was forced to flee, I always answered, “Puppy and Blankie.” (They’re exactly what they sound like – I know, I was so creative as a kid.)
Puppy was a gift from my dad and I’ve had him for longer than I can remember. We share a telepathic connection, and he has always been there to comfort me when I needed it. Despite his advanced age – 210 in dog years – he doesn’t look half bad. Oh, sure, his hat is missing, and he’s had a few surgeries over the years (he’s had several nose jobs, plus open heart surgery and a spinal fusion)*, but his heart is as big as ever. And even though he no longer goes everywhere with me, I know he’ll always be waiting for me when I get back.
Now Blankie is a bit different. See, my mom loved to crochet. She used to make all sorts of afghans and, once upon a time, she made one for me. How I adored it! Blankie was the perfect bedtime companion. Blankie was also the perfect skirt, the perfect dress, and the perfect shawl. And after my mom died, if I wrapped myself up in my beloved Blankie, I’d have sworn it was the perfect conduit for a hug from the other side. Whenever I felt blue, all I had to do was throw Blankie over my shoulders and I’d feel my mother’s arms around me once more.
I wish that still happened.
The year before she died, she made me another blanket. Yes, I named this one Blankie, too. This blanket was much bigger than my faithful bedtime buddy, as it was meant to be something I could use for the rest of my life. And I did use it into my twenties, right up until the day my washer ate it. I pulled it out of the wash one day and found that the machine had put a rather large hole in my favorite blanket. With tears in my eyes and a heavy heart, I spread Blankie out to dry one last time before I put it away for good. I’ll never part with it, but I don’t want to make the hole bigger by using it and I don’t know how – or if – it can be fixed.
As I grew older, I found that my answer to that question – What one thing would you grab? – began to change. Of course I would still grab Puppy and Blankie (both of them), but what about my photo albums? They’re irreplaceable (I really need to make the time to scan them all, in case something did happen).
Grandpa used to take pictures of everything, then get double prints. Grandma and I spent countless hours poring over those pictures and labeling them for posterity. She and Grandpa then put them into albums for me, sixteen years of life documented photographically (the taking and labeling of pictures gradually ended as my grandma fought ovarian cancer).
Being the insatiable shutterbug that I am, I’ve carried on documenting my life with a camera. I now possess a remarkable number of photo albums that I never tire of looking at, but I couldn’t just grab them and dash out the door – they fill a whole cabinet and weigh a ton.
And what about my diaries? I think at last count there were a baker’s dozen. Thirteen diaries aren’t exactly easy to grab on the run, either, but I would hate to lose them. They’re my memory, a handwritten record of things I felt were worth recording but have since forgotten. My diaries helped shape my writing style; they bring to life the girl I used to be and wouldn’t mind being again. And if I’m going to grab them, then I need to bring all my old stories with me, too, and like my photo albums, they are many and heavy.
My scrapbooks would also have to come. I’ve kept scrapbooks since I was a teenager and while there’s one that’s little more than a collection of comic strips and another that consists mainly of teen magazine posters of very attractive actors and boy band members (Ryan Gosling and Nick Carter, I’m lookin’ at you), there are some that are a much more visual representation of what I documented (or forgot to document) in my diaries. Good times with friends, not-so-good times with friends, and early attempts at journalism are all taped into my scrapbooks for future laughs.
Speaking of future laughs, the final item on my list of prized possessions would have to be my note tins. I was lucky enough to go to high school back in the Dark Ages (i.e., the days before cell phones were everywhere). My friends and I didn’t text each other, we wrote notes and passed them in class (and occasionally in the hallway between classes). We drew silly pictures in them, came up with a million and one different ways to fold them, and even wrote them in code.
Every now and then, I dig through my tins and reread them. Sometimes I cringe at how silly we were back when we knew all there was to know. Sometimes I laugh at our certainty about the world and how it worked. And sometimes I cry, because those were some of the best times of my life with some of the best people I’ve ever known. The real world is cold and scary, and I like returning to that safe, warm, happy place in my past, a place which, I’m sure, has only grown safer and warmer and happier as I’ve grown older and wiser and wearier.
As I look back over this list of things, I can see I’ve left some things off. And since it was supposed to be about possessions, I’ve left people off entirely. But looking through this, I also see a common thread, one that’s mainly related to people: Family. Friends. Memories. So many of my most cherished possessions are things that help me remember parts of my life that are now fuzzy with age. Some things I can recall with crystal clarity, but others require a bit of a helping hand to pull them through. It’s funny the things we remember and those we forget. I’d like to think I only remember the truly important things, but I know that’s not true.
Still, it’s a goal worth shooting for. With my trusty memory aids to guide me, perhaps one day I’ll hit that target.
*I was a little rough on Puppy when I was little. Apparently I used to pull his nose off – either I did, or the washer did. So my mom had to glue it back on a few times. And then there was the horrific day that his chest split open and had to be stitched back together. The same thing happened to his back, right at the top of his overalls. I always likened these incidents to surgeries. Since Puppy is people to me, it seemed only right.
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