When I was preparing to write this blog post, I KNEW there had to be a song out there about “Sentimental Things.” It was surprisingly more difficult to find than I had imagined. But Donna King came to the rescue. It’s not my typical style of music- but it conveys the message I was thinking about when I went looking.
I’m going through the sentimenal things- sortin’ through the old memories, one by one I toss aside ones that make me cry, it’s the esentimental things that remind me of you…
Theres a few that make me laugh, a few that make me cry, there’s a few that make me think of you- then it makes me wonder why…
I’m going through sentimental things – sortin’ through your memories – one by one- I toss aside ones that make me cry, it’s the sentimental things that remind me of you.
I think there was a particular conversation or something that brought this idea to my mind, and surprisingly it stuck around for a few days, so I decided I needed to write something here, finally. (The blog has been severely neglected these past 6 – 8 months- especially since my knee replacement.) Between post-COVID brain fog and peri-menopause brain fog- some days it’s shocking I remember my name, let alone a blog post idea. Gotta strike while it’s hot!
I am generally not a very sentimental person when it comes to “things.” I’ve moved twice, where I’ve gotten rid of almost everything I owned and started again. I spent almost six years traveling around the world with one suitcase, living in Airbnb or small rental apartments. But now that I have settled here in NY again, I’ve definitely accumulated many more things than I have had in a long time.
As I look around my flat, I see many things that remind me of my ex, Dex. He was the first guy I dated when I moved back, and he is someone I adore. Even when we broken up (until recently), we’ve determinedly stayed friends. He was around when I first got to this place. He is an excellent handyman (and his love language is acts of service), so the curtains, the photographs on the gallery wall, the art, and even the massive mirror over my fireplace were all installed by him (with my help- which also reminds me of the way we worked well as a team.)
Even more than that, there are little things all over that make me smile when I pay attention and realize they are there. Just here in my office, in front of me, there is a lump of lava he gave me to remind me of my trip to Iceland. (I gave him a bracelet with lava beads as a souvenir of that trip.) There is an antique carnival glass low-vase I purchased when we went on one of our many antiquing adventures because he LOVES antiques- particularly crackle glass. To that end, I have at least 4-5 small pieces of crackle glass spread throughout the house too. There is one gorgeous piece of glass, not crackle, more of a shallow bowl with a 70’s kind of vibe to it. We were in a local antique shop, and I loved it but didn’t really want to spend the money that day. We finished shopping and came back to my place, where he pulled a bag out of his backpack and handed it to me. It was the bowl! Somehow he had purchased it without me even knowing.
He was so sweet like that. Seriously.
I started thinking about this idea of how we assign value- sentimental value- to things. Often that value to us outweighs the actual value of the physical item. Parents love without reason the hand-drawn card their kid gave them just because. A magnet from an awesome vacation with your best friend always brings a smile to your face when you notice it on the fridge. These things can be lovely reminders of moments of joy, sweetness, kindness, etc.
As I thought about that concept, I was being pretty haughty. I don’t really assign a lot of value to things. I’ve given up everything before. I could do it again easily. I don’t need things in my life. Yes, last night, laying in bed, outlining this post (isn’t that when we all “write” things- when it’s dark and quiet and now we can’t sleep because our heads are full of ideas?) I thought about that piece of glass from Dex. It sits on my coffee table, holding the candle and fireplace remotes. Inside is a wooden ring I saved from another one of our adventures. I got one stuck on my finger and ended up breaking it to get it off, then he was teasing me and broke his! This is the last one left!
As I thought about that glass, I asked myself, if I were to move- maybe to travel again where I’d need to downsize altogether- could I give that piece of glass up? Sell it? Give it away? I thought the answer would be yes, of course. I don’t keep things. I don’t need things. Yet, even as I am just writing about that idea, I am getting teary, and my throat is hurting a bit. Geesh!
Maybe it’s because there is something about this man. He would never ever make it if I wasn’t polyamorous. He could never be all things to me. We would not be compatible in a mono-normative way. But maybe it’s because of that- because I could just adore him, love him for who he is- foibles, bad habits, silliness, kindness, and all, without the pressure of making him fit into a specific mold. I still adore him. We dated for the better part of two years. He was the guy who was there when I adjusted to living in the US again. He was the guy who was there when I mourned my life in Berlin. He was the guy who gave me someone to care about, to have adventures with. He was my soft landing into a life I didn’t expect to have but have grown to love. He was a ginormous part of that. Sentimental.
We don’t date anymore. For a while, we stayed great friends and did things together, texted, and talked on the phone. When his girlfriend broke up with him, it was me he immediately came to see, sobbing on my shoulder. We spent those three weeks enjoying our full friendship again. (When he was dating her- we didn’t see each other quite so much- you know- monogamy!) But then they got back together. And this time? She decided he could not have his friendship with me and be monogamous with her. He wanted to be in a together forever relationship. He has always – always wanted that life, so he gave me up in exchange for that dream. Fair enough.
It sucks for me. There has always been something about him that I cherish and feel I almost NEED in my life. But now, it is gone. But i still have that beautiful piece of glass. I can’t imagine giving that up. That was a surprise to me. It wasn’t even what I expected to write about when I started thinking about this topic. (I guess that outline I made in my head last night has gone out the window!) Apparently, I do assign more sentimental value to “things” than I assumed.
When I was thinking about this concept, I also thought about how sometimes sentimental assignments to things can cause us pain. It can make us sad or angry or bring up past traumas. Again, I was feeling a bit good about myself. I don’t attach sentimental value like THAT. Just because I broke up with someone and it was a bad situation doesn’t mean I would get rid of a perfectly good “thing.” Who am I trying to fool?
I recently took all the wedding-themed charms that my ex-husband gave me for my Pandora bracelet and put them away in a box in my closet. (I did keep the other ones, just not the romantic wedding ones.) I didn’t feel the need to be reminded of that relationship every time I wore the bracelet, and I didn’t want those negative feelings to prevent me from wearing it. When we got together, he loved getting me the charms because it was a simple gift and a sweet way to make me happy and remind us of moments in our relationship. I wore it all the time.
Our marriage was rocky from pretty much the beginning, whether I realized it or not. About a year into our marriage, I went on a trip back east to see my best friend and my family. He hates flying and is totally terrified of it, so I did not bring him with me. In theory, he was ok with that. (He was not.) I came home, unpacked did the usual stuff. A few weeks later, I realized I could not find my Pandora bracelet anywhere. It was gone! I asked him to help me look for it. I tore apart the closet I kept that stuff in and nothing. We could not find it anywhere. We chalked it up to airport workers grabbing it out of my suitcase because it was just in the netting on top. Rooky travel move on my side.
Fast forward to two years ago. I had been divorced for almost ten years by then. I was in the process of setting up this flat and settling back here in NY. Anything I had not given up when I left him and started my travels was in my mom’s basement in boxes. Boxes my ex had started to pack up for me before I could go back to our place and do it myself. I was sitting in my mom’s basement, going through stuff, and I found a Pandora Bracelet box. THE pandora bracelet box I used to keep my bracelet in. It had my name written on the top. I opened it up and immediately started to cry- it was my bracelet.
Now if you are reading this and thinking, “Wow, how cool! She got it back. It must have been lost all this time.” Then you haven’t read much about my marriage on this blog before or didn’t notice that the box, which was mine to begin with, now had my name written on top. That ass-hole took the bracelet and hid it from me. He was like that. Controlling. Mean. He was mad that I had left him to go visit my family alone, and this is how he made me pay. This could be why having those charms on that bracelet gave me feelings of bad juju!
Now, my Dad buys me my Pandora charms. This thing that had such negative feelings attached after this happened, my bracelet, is full of love again, just not the kind it used to be.
Ya know, now that I think about it. There was a man I dated on and off for many years when I was in my early-mid 20’s. When we finally stopped dating for good- there were a lot of things that reminded me of him in my house: Photographs, books, cards, and notes. I knew those things needed to be out of sight at that point. My best friend helped me toss them all in a box with his name on the top. I wasn’t ready to get rid of them yet, so we stuck them in the attic. She said someday, I’d come across the box, see his name on it, and just toss it without a second thought. She was right. When I moved, that box was put on the curb without even opening it.
Well- hmm, good or bad, sentiment is assigned to things. How do we deal with it? What do we choose to keep in our lives or rid ourselves of because of the memories? That’s something so many of us have to consider as we go through life.
Ironically, I wear my wedding ring still. I love it. It is a gorgeous purple sapphire with a small diamond offset next to it. I had it designed for me at a local jeweler in Minneapolis. I didn’t wear it for years. Once, I came back to the US for a visit and noticed it in my things. It’s still so pretty that I decided to start wearing it. Now, I wear it on my right hand over my nana’s wedding band. My nana and papa were married for over 50 years. If someone notices the rings, I always say, “It’s my wedding ring, and this one is my nana’s. It reminds me to believe in love, but never do that shit again!”
What do you think? Do you assign sentimental value to things? Good? Bad? Do you keep sentimental things that remind you of others? Why? Do you get rid of them? Why? I’d genuinely love to hear your thoughts on this, especially since my initial evaluation of my own values changed totally while I was writing this.
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