In the last year, I went from a 3,000 square foot house with three garages down to a 1,000 square foot apartment sans garage. That is a lot of culling out. Boiling down to the essence. I have found the artifacts that matter. The mileposts of my life that I want to hold onto, at least for now. As my friend Janine said, “Someone told me that 3 moves is like a fire and I have found that to be true.” Well, I’m not quite there yet but shedding has been the name of the game for the last six months and I have come to understand what I value.
Here are some of the artifacts that I am holding onto:
Staffordshire England Dogs
This is a pair of porcelain dogs that have stared out at me unfazed for my entire childhood on the shelves of my parents living room at 10 Majestic Court in Delaware. When my parents moved to New Mexico about five years ago, I was given custody of these dogs. It is ironic that my parents had porcelain dogs because we never had a family dog growing up. These dogs were a surrogate of sorts. They are even more important to me because I remember seeing them in my grandfather’s photo albums. They were originally in my grandparents’ home which makes them so much more revered. I think of all the family members these dogs have stared out at and what stories they could tell. I think of the Twister games in my parents living room, the Easter egg hunts, and my grandparents sing a longs around my grandfather’s grand piano. Oh, if those dogs could talk.
I think my mother purchased these lamps in Northern California. Wolfard’s are made in Cotati, CA so it would make sense that she bought them after moving to California. I was so fortunate that my parents lived about a block down the street from me in Windsor, CA. We spent most holidays and birthdays around my mother’s elegant dining room table and the glow of the Wolfard lamps. I have owned these lamps since my parents move, and Roy and I lit them this past Thanksgiving in my new apartment. I was worried that there was not enough oil in the lamp to stay lit but miraculously they glowed for hours. I think of the joint April birthday celebrations for my daughter and her twin cousins and my parents 40th wedding anniversary that my first husband and I catered. They were all lit by the glow of these lamps.
My first husband Orlando and I traveled to South America in the late 1980’s. The end of our trip was trapsing through the Amazon jungle near the confluence of the Rio Negro and the Amazon River. We had paid for a private guide to travel on the rivers and explore the shacks and villages in the jungle. We fished for piranha, canoed in dugout canoes, watched monkeys swing in the tree branches above and walked along a trail to find a woman weaving baskets for sale. We bought that basket. I’ve held onto it through two marriages and cross country moves. I wonder where that woman is now and what she would think of the journey that basket has been on. Now it sits in my office and it’s much less pliable than when I first purchased it, much like myself. The basket may be stiff and cracked, but it has traveled the Western Hemisphere.
My son built a Lego airplane on wheels as a child. It isn’t that pretty but it is my son’s creation. I have had it on my office shelf for the last decade, at least. When my son came home to say goodbye to our lake house in September, I asked him to repair his plane. He immediately knew where the misplaced parts belong and reassembled his creation for travel to my new apartment. It’s a piece of him, wherever I land.
Lapiz and Copper Tree
My children and I traveled to Medellín, Colombia four years ago for the Christmas holiday. I remember buying the copper tree on a plaza near our Airbnb while shopping with my daughter, Natalie. Another handmade artifact from South America that always reminds me of that trip. It was a terrific adventure with my children as adults and that piece reminds me of it every day.
I have had a glass block for many years that I have thrown shells, pebbles, feathers and drift wood into. About two years ago, my first block started to fill up so I purchased a second. I have pieces and parts of so many beaches and mountain tops and trails. It’s a testament to my travels. Goat Rock, St. Pete Beach, Mount Washington, Lake Winnipesauke, Machu Picchu, Bohemian National Park, Ocracoke, Lake Mattamuskeet, Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Assateague Island, Spotsylvania, Gettysburg, and various spots on the Appalachian Trail. It’s all there. The pieces and parts of my travels. I hope I need another glass block to continue to memorize my travels.
There is so much that I have let go of over the last four years, and it’s lightened my load considerably. It’s helped me reconnect to the things I truly value and understand my roots. The things I value don’t have to be expensive, or beautiful, or sturdy, they just have to touch my heart in some way that connects me with my family and friends and my travels. What are your artifacts?