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?