A collecting fanatic. Corners of my universe serving as miniature temples dedicated to honoring the things I did not want to forget, the things from which I could not part. At my youngest: the tags from my clothing. Labels cut from purple OSHKOSH spandex tees to stop the itching stacked neatly and fit into the palm of my hand. Snoopy figurines acquired from any place of availability – the one of Woodstock sleeping on Snoopy’s belly detached from a red plastic wrapped box of Valentine’s Day candy was my favorite. The characters in Halloween costumes that doubled as a piggy bank was a close second.
Collecting was a large part of me. I forced it upon others in the New Year’s resolutions I implored my family to write and place inside an overturned black top hat. I never read their hopes and wishes; they stayed crumbled in shambolic almost-spheres.
I forced it upon others in the “fuzzballs” I made out of the stray pieces of fabric from my baby blanket for my dad. He kept them in the table drawer to the right of the couch, closest to the window. Sometimes I would try to combine deposits and form a larger piece of fuzz. I don’t know when he emptied the drawer, when I stopped presenting the fuzzballs to him. Another collection interest aroused and replaced the former.
This time, Beanie Babies. A collective collection effort, a piece of my siblings and I altogether. I had my favorites: Eggbert, the chick with its head poking out of a cracked egg, whose TY informational tag said that we had the same birthday; Spunky, the cocker spaniel, whose ear fur was textured and rough and curly like my long ponytail. They rested on the bookcase right outside my room. Each night, my mom would pull one from the shelf and gingerly toss the animal from hallway to bedroom – my sleeping companion for the night.
In third grade my music teacher gave me my first journal. It was orange and blue and littered with cutesy quotes and writing prompts. I began collecting my thoughts: the routine of my day, sparing no detail: I woke up at 6:30 AM and stayed in bed until 6:38 when I started to put my uniform on. I collected the thoughts of others, encouraging my friends to write down their thoughts on the game we were playing or the song we had written. I got to read what they had written, but always wrote last and kept my thoughts private. The journals stayed with me.
And from this I became a keeper. A keeper of things often forgotten, overlooked, thrown away. A keeper of things with nuances so brilliant and vivid the physicality of it is almost unnecessary. Trinkets, paystubs, movie tickets. Company kept, dates, and details scrawled on empty corners and taped on my bedroom wall. Assigning the tangible to my beloved memories: the ones that sit heavy and uncomfortable between my shoulder blades, just as much the ones that I can feel pulling at my cheeks, reaching my eyelids.