I used to know where and when and with whom I acquired everything I owned. Everything had a story. But today I realized, when I pulled on a pair of navy blue socks, that I did not remember where I got them, or when. I looked around my bedroom and remembered story after story about each small object: the soap dish from Africa with five elephants carved head-to-tail along the back (it’s where I put my keys and wallet every night)—a parting gift from Wilderness Travel as we were preparing to leave Africa after spending a month there; Mother’s mauve blanket that I sat on while I pulled on my socks: it serves as bedspread since none of my bedspreads made it through the last move, the box they were packed in was lost or left behind; the black shoes I leaned over to tie: my sister Michelle picked those out for me one night in a store on Main Street: we were the last people there. I was buying a suit to wear to Mother’s funeral. “Try these on, too,” she said. She knew I needed shoes that did not leak rainwater.
Our possessions matter. We all need clothes, blankets, good shoes, dishes, a table to eat at. I have tried to find interesting items to use everyday—but even if they are commonplace, they have stories, and those stories matter to me: they make my belongings more interesting, and, sometimes, dear.
When I die, my stories about my possessions will be lost. Everything I own will wait in my quiet house, having become nothing more than old spoons and chairs. Some things I cherish will, to new eyes, look only discardable. But others, those that someone keeps, will begin to accumulate new stories for the people who end up with them, people I may not even know.
Today I remember nothing about the socks on my feet. I feel them against my skin. Perhaps, as I wear them, they will communicate some word of provenance.
The Levi’s I’m wearing: I bought those from a clearance rack at Smith’s Marketplace in downtown Salt Lake City eight years ago. The belt: I picked that out when my friend Craig, who was visiting last summer from St. Louis, drove with me to Idaho Falls to find something for me to wear to my niece’s wedding. The comfortable dark-blue sweater: that was a gift from Mother at Christmastime nine years ago—snagged, washed until it has faded: still it keeps me warm.
In My Life
John Lennon wrote "In My Life" in 1965. It was released as part of the Beatle's album Rubber Soul.
I used to collect remakes of songs. I found new interpretations interesting; sometimes they shed new light, and I could hear old songs in new ways. In 1994, Crosby, Stills, and Nash released a remake of "In My Life" (part of their album After the Storm). It adds harmonica and is thoughtfully sung. I listened again to that version of the song today; it talks about how things change. Here is a link:
I photographed the flowers and their shadows, above, in Salt Lake City in 2006. They stood in the evening light at Brigham's Wall.