My 4 Minutes and 4 Treasured Objects

The other day when filling-out two passports for the kids (their first!), I realized my ID expired on my birthday. A birthday which took place only a few days prior. I had totally missed this and it was slightly okay because I had other forms of identification to make do. But it also led me down this quick nostalgic rabbit hole, wherein I unearthed my old learning permit for the kind lady at the post office. “You look the same!” she quipped. “I was 17! I gleefully responded. 

I know my old expired permit that doesn’t even look like the current New York City form of identification serves no tangible purpose. But when holding it in my hand and waving it at our unmasked faces and pointing to the bowl cut I sometimes miss, it reminded me of why I carry it with me to begin with. Quite simply, I treasure it. 

My 17-year-old baby-face self in my permit isn’t the only example of this oddity. I spend almost every day with my children, and yet, I have worn a ring or nameplate for nearly a decade with River and then Oak’s names on it. Later, I added a ring, to signify yet another connection. There’s so much else too. Rings, hair clips, and even candelabras that remind me of meaningful moments and people who are here and who have passed on. 

Recently, The New York Times did an interactive article where in the face of great grief, mourners who lost family members during the pandemic (from the Coronavirus or otherwise) shared objects that reminded them of their loved ones. The objects range from an orange shirt, a red bird, to the most beautiful scribbled notes of tenets to live by;

“Ms. Patel’s father, Ramesh Patel, died at 78 after battling Covid. The tenets he wrote, in his native language, Gujarati, are guidelines for life: about having respect for karma, being proud of selfless acts, forgiving one another, not showing off. Her 18-year-old son now reads the tenets often, trying to live like his grandfather. “This is like the Bible for us.” reports Dani Blum and Jaspal Riyait. 

I gave myself four minutes to gather four treasured things that I carried upstate with me, here they are:

My journal for mental notes, work notes, loving notes. All beat up and not yet full. But still beloved.

The necklace I keep close.

And Palo Santo I’ve been bringing around to clear all the new spaces we sleep.

As time goes on, I realize that what I hold on to shifts. This is true for what I’m able to grab and where I am. I am almost certain that if I were in Brooklyn, I would have extended the list to 10 treasured objects, and that 10 would have been so easy. When looking at what readers sent to The New York Times, I can’t help but be touched with how different each item is, and the stories within them. 

I often think about when or if we’ll ever stop mourning this particular season past. And the longer it goes on in one way or the next, and what things may mean next year in comparison to this year. When I hold my journal, twist my necklace, burn a stick of Palo Santo, or whip out my old ID as a form of conversation and nostalgia, I am comforted by all of these things and all of the objects I’ve held along the way. 

If you had 4 minutes, what 4 treasured objects would you grab?

7 thoughts on “My 4 Minutes and 4 Treasured Objects

  • Reply Katie July 26, 2021 at 8:09 pm

    I have a necklace with a tiny silver pitcher pendant. I actually store the pendant from my grandmas house as a child. It was in the set of drawers in the attic where I slept when we went to visit, probably had belonged to one of my aunts. I recently admitted that I had stolen it and now wear it and no one said it was theirs , so i think it’s okay. But it reminds me of my mothers family, the attic of that farmhouse, summers on the farm. There’s probably also some symbolism in wearing a pitcher/jug, something for me to think about. I can’t think of what else I’d grab. My family!

    • Reply latonya July 27, 2021 at 9:18 am

      Oh Katie, I love that! So funny that no one remembers it as theirs. But also, its so wonderful that you can look at it and think of not only how you acquired it, but your entire family and what that room, and that house meant to them.

  • Reply Raffaela July 27, 2021 at 5:07 am

    What a beautiful post. All of your posts are meaningful and full of empathy, I really appreciate it. I wear everyday a gold ring with my daughter’s name on it, I bought it for myself when she was only one month old and I treasure it like a talisman for both of us. Also, the fact I bought it with my money, makes me happy and proud of me!

    • Reply latonya July 27, 2021 at 9:16 am

      Hi Raffaela, thank you for the sweet comment! Yes, I realize too that things I’ve purchased for myself and by myself feel different and hold a different weight in my heart. I’m so happy you have that ring to hold to.


  • Reply Anne July 27, 2021 at 10:08 am

    I loved this post so much!
    The first thing I would grab is my photo of my grandpa and me on some rocks. I was maybe 4 and we were on a road trip to visit my great aunt. We stopped by a lake to stretch our legs and someone snapped a photo while we were climbing the rocks. It’s my favorite memory with my grandpa. My grandma gave me the picture about a year ago. My grandpa doesn’t remember who I am anymore, but I look at the picture and remember how tight he hugged me. Second I would grab these 2 vintage poodle pins that my mom gave me when I was 16. I guess they are probably considered antiques now since I just turned 40. They make my smile, and remind me of her whenever I look at them. Third- my ring that I bought myself to represent my children and myself. It’s handmade, simple but super special to me. Fourth- my sketch book/visual journal. It my history and my present.

  • Reply Marie July 28, 2021 at 4:30 pm

    I really love this idea. Thank you for sharing! I would grab first a necklace from my partner in the shape of Eritrea. It was a gift to him from his mom, and he lent it to me when we had to spend months apart during covid. I wear it everyday and it makes me feel a little closer to him. Then I would reach for my journal when I was traveling along in Argentina in my early 20s. I learned so much about myself during that time. Next I would choose a pair of earring from my mom (thing 3) and dad (thing 4). I wear earrings everyday and those gifted from my family mean the most to me.

    • Reply latonya July 29, 2021 at 11:00 am

      Marie, I love that you would grab your journal from a specific time. As even when we are past that time, rereading and reconnecting with our old selves is such a helpful exercise.

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