I brought a random array of boxes home with my from Pensylvania, back in March. After going through them, I realized that what I was pulling out of the boxes wasn’t just stuff, but stories. Stories about myself, those that I love, the interests that I developed on my own, the quirks that I’ve inherited, the places I’ve traveled to, and many other things. And what made me keep some of these item for so long?
Ever wondered what makes another person tick? Don’t just look at the stuff on the shelves and pictures on the walls… look for the tales behind the treasures that they keep. Maybe you’ll be surprised at what you discover.
I’ve told you before that I’m a word person. I don’t actually read the dictionary for fun, but I love to know the sound, the spelling, and the correct pronunciation for so many words. You’ve heard me talk about my love of names. There’s something magical, to me, about a written word. Yes, there’s magic in the written word, too, but you’ll notice I was referring to one written word. Any one word.
Several years ago, my cousin had a birthday, and for once, I thought I had come up with something brilliantly creative for her. She’s the quirky type, you know. I went out and bought a large green clothes pin, from Pottery Barn, one that’s as wide as my fist, and large enough to use as a paperweight, or just to hold letters. Instead of giving it to her, as is (as was?), I took a black Sharpie, and wrote words all over it. Fun words, eccentric words, odd words. I found out later that she already had a clothes pin like it (different color), but she loved mine, not just because it was from me, but from its fun wordiness.
When I had my own house in PA, I needed a trash can for my office, and went hunting from something new and different. I bought a large flower pot from Hobby Lobby, brought it home, and pulled out my dictionary. Flipping through page after page, I looked up almost every letter in the alphabet, writing a list of words that SOUNDED cool, as well as LOOKED fun. Or beautiful or special or weird. If you’re a word-meister, these letters attract the eye and the syllables attract the ear.
Words like “stalactite”, “quintessence”, “vagabond”, and “bellwether”. Some of them, like “samarium” and “troglodyte”, I would probably still have to look up, in order to remember what they mean. “Glint”, “drizzle”, and “blandishment” are just fun to say, and practically make you see their meaning, hanging in the air. And I don’t know if I included a picture of it, but I found it funny that “sequester” was in the mix. But still, it has a great sound and look, too.
There was a huge list of words, and I carefully wrote them onto the flower pot, keeping the colors from being right next to another same-color word. And then, I ran out of words, and didn’t have time to look for more. That pot stayed on my desk for the next few months, and eventually went into a box, when I moved. I always intended to finish it, but didn’t. I still love my words on that pot. I think I’ll have to finish it, soon-ish.
I did not inherit the engineering genes, despite its prominence in my family. And therefore, I didn’t get the specifically ceramic engineering genes, either. If you must know, my mom’s dad was a ceramic engineer, my dad is a ceramic engineer, and so is his brother, and two of my mom’s brothers. It’s in the blood, as they say. What I did inherit, like my mother before me, is a love of ceramics, especially when it comes to dishes. If you ever see me in a fancy restaurant, and I pick up a plate to look at the bottom, like all my ceramist family, I want to know what company made it.
But it isn’t just dishes (don’t get me wrong, I don’t ALL of them)… if you really want to make me drool, let me loose in a pottery store. Preferably one that sells pottery by numerous artists, so I have plenty to choose from. I adore pottery, have always wished that I could make it myself, and to make it worse, I can be completely enraptured by a vase or plate that has a particularly beautiful glaze. Preferably one that looks like blue flames licking its way up the sides of the work of art.
When I returned from PA, I had punched in the end of a box, in order to get my car’s back window to shut. Peering into the crunched end, I could tell there was a sleeping bag inside, so I figured it would be alright. After unpacking that box, I am even more thankful that my bashing that box didn’t harm anything. Because as well as they were packed, there were breakables inside. Wrapped in towels, and inside of a metal pot, I found one of my large decorative vases. I probably bought it at Hobby Lobby, and it wasn’t very expensive, but I still loved the feel of it, the colors of the glaze (who cares if it’s cheap, if it thrills your eye?), and the sheer weight of it.
Further into the box, I found another large vase, but this one was something special. I still remember when I found it at Pier 1, and couldn’t take my eyes off of it. The beautiful blue color, the flowers painted under the blue glaze… I just adored it. And I don’t remember if I had a coupon or if there was a great sale, but I got a deal on it, and had to take it home with me. Being the practical person I am, I had actually started using it as a trash can, in my library, but nothing heavier than kleenex went into it. : )
Another container had a delightfully “painted” box inside of it, and I knew immediately what I was about to see. If I have this story correct, my dad brought it home from Korea, though I don’t know if it was when the Army had him over there, or when he went on a business trip. This box, containing a beautiful pottery tea set has never been used, but I always wanted it. I fully intend to use it someday, too. But still haven’t done so. It’s older than I am, so even if it never sees use, in my lifetime, it’ll probably be handed down as an heirloom for one of my kids. Someday.
And then, I made the frightening discovery. Of all the fragile things in the crushed box, I would have recovered, if anything else had broken. If a certain green “candy jar” had shattered, I would have regretted it for always. Because that one little jar holds memories that I will treasure forever.
When I was little, probably around the age of 5, I remember going with my grandma to visit her mother. My great-grandma always had a green glass “jar” on her coffee table, full of hard candy. Being a child, of course I wanted the candy. But when you took the lid off, it would play a song, and I loved listening to the music. And pushing the little metal wire switch that would stop the music… and then let it start again. When I was much older, I discovered that it played “Where Do I Begin?”, the theme song from Love Story (which I have still never seen). When I eventually learned the words, I loved to sing along.
My family and I remember those visits differently, because according to audio tapes, I was a bit of a loudmouthed little girl, difficult to stop talking, so why would I be shy? But I remember those visits as fun times, but I was always bashful about being asked to sing for whoever was there. I’m sorry, maybe it wasn’t obvious on the outside, but I remember that! Eventually, my grandma inherited the musical candy jar, and she always kept the same hard candy in it, at her house. And I continued to love to play with the lid, and listen to the music, though I wasn’t as fond of that type of candy, by then.
When the time came, I wanted to have the green jar, because of the memories it evoked, and so I could share the charm of the musical lid with my own children. Memories are wonderful things, don’t you think?
After that, what could possibly be as wonderful as those memories? Not much, but there are other things that are quite interesting. I uncovered quite a number of scented candles, in my boxes, and you’ll notice that they all smell like food of some sort. Both perfume and candles, for me, have to smell like something edible… I don’t do very well with completely floral scents. I don’t find that floral smells translate very well into… well, non-flowers. They’re much too strong for me, and going into a perfume or candle store will likely make me sneeze, because of the overpowering scents.
Even one of my favorite sprays is blue freesia (obviously, a flower) and PEACH, so they still have to mix it up with something else. And candles… they’re the best way to make your house smell like baked goods, when you don’t feel like baking. If it’s advertised to smell like a plant, tree, or fresh laundry, I will probably gag and leave the room. Unless I’m at someone else’s house, which is when I behave myself. : )
For those that are more travel-minded, I came across a piece of my trip to Indonesia. Remember how I mentioned all the ceramic engineers in my family? Well, with an uncle living there and my dad consulting there, one year, we all went over. I was on one of the first trips, with the plan to stay with my cousins for the month, because they were already there. I had carefully saved up my pocket money, in advance, and had it changed to Indonesian rupiah, so I could bring home all sorts of souvenirs.
This wooden horse was my selection amongst all the wooden carvings that I saw over there. If you’ve ever been to a market that advertises Balinese woodworking, it’s similar. Lots of weird-looking gods and creatures, mixed in with beautifully carved animals. I have a wooden cat that my older brother brought me, when he came back, and it looks over the edge of whatever shelf it’s propped on. In turn, I brought him the “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” monkeys, and a fun version of them, at that. But my horse, I wrapped carefully in my laundry, praying that he’d make it back to the U.S. in one piece. You never know, with how the suitcases get thrown around.
Amazingly, he only lost one tip of an ear, on that trip, and I think he lost the tip of the other ear, on this trip back from PA. So, I think that’s a pretty good deal. I need to glue his ear tip back on, since he’s come this far, for this long, he should be as close to being in one piece as possible.
Finally, I found my stash of disc golf frisbees, as well as a glow-in-the-dark one that I’ve never tried. Thus far, I do not throw golf discs very well. No matter how far they’re advertised to go, I can throw them all about the same distance as a regular frisbee (if you’re playing a game of Ultimate, I can throw almost from one end zone to the other). So, I need to work on throwing my dish “driver” as far as it’ll go. There’s a trick to it that I haven’t learned yet.
Did you enjoy the boxes? I think the next best thing to actually getting to open them is hearing the stories that come with each item. My family will attest to my NOT being a pack rat or a hoarder, but I do love to hang onto things that have fun and precious memories attached to them. What would life be like, without memories? I hope I never know.