The Objects We Keep: 5 Items I Will Never Get Rid Of

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During one of my classes during my final year in college, my professor asked the students to bring in five objects that represented us in some way. It was the first week of classes and this was an opportunity for us to get to know one another. I admit that I typically hated the various ice-breakers professors forced students to do. However, I liked this idea. It wound up being a bit of a challenge since being at college I didn’t have many interesting items in my dorm room. For the life of me, I cannot remember what I brought in the end. Nevertheless, it was a cool idea that stuck with me.

Another source of influence for this post was my move to Boston. I’m notorious for being a ruthless declutterer. Before moving I must’ve gotten rid of about 2/3 of my possessions. In the end, everything I owned in the world fit into three medium-sized cardboard boxes and two suitcases. But I’m not completely heartless. There are still some objects that I staunchly refuse to give up, objects I plan to keep for decades to come. Therein lies my interest. What objects did I keep? What stories do they tell? I think it’s more telling to examine our keepsakes than the possessions we give up.

Here are my five keepsakes, almost all of which fall into the categories of beauty and style. Five keepsakes that I painstakingly selected that I find represent me best.

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Urban Decay Naked Palette

This has the honor of being my very first high-end makeup purchase and my first eyeshadow palette. I believe I bought this in 2012 when I first got into eyeshadow. So… going on six years! Back in the early beauty blogging days, this was the it makeup item. The OG neutral palette that started the craze that still is going strong to this day. Having this in my collection was a huge deal to me back then. It felt very adult. A real luxe makeup product at my fingertips. Plus, all of the cool bloggers talked about it! I was finally a part of the club.

If you can’t already tell by the photo, my Naked Palette is looking worse for wear. Toasted, one of my favorite shades in the lineup has cracked and exploded leaving pink shimmer in every corner. The lettering on the packaging is barely legible. The brush that came with it has long since disappeared. For four years this was the only eyeshadow palette I owned. It came with me everywhere. Surprisingly, I never hit pan on any shades. I was obsessed with Smog and still think it’s one of the best bronze gold shades ever.

Even though it’s glory days are long over, I refuse to toss it in the bin. It carries such nostalgia. It takes me back to my early makeup days when I experimented with different looks. Even back to the glory days of beauty blogging and YouTube before I became disenchanted with the direction the industry was going in. Back when there was no formula for success. When it was still a small, supportive community. When it was just a person in their bedroom chatting to a camera. I still hope to rekindle my lost love of the beauty blogging world. I’m getting sick of its consumerist tendencies. I am hoping this blog, a new hobby of mine will do that.

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Pride & Prejudice

An odd entry perhaps. However, this exact book holds a special place in my heart. It’s not really about the novel, generally speaking. This came into my life in an unusual way. In the early days of 2008, my family and I were on vacation in Bali. Those days, my mom used to force me to read books. She picked this one up in the hotel’s library of lost or forgotten books. We’d recently watched the 2005 movie with Keira Knightly, which I fell in love with even though, per my angsty teenage attitude, I flat out denied it. My mom and I read it together on that trip. I don’t think we made it very far. To be honest, I was too young to understand the story.

Flashforward to 2010, I picked this back up again for an English research paper. For 10th grader me, this research paper was a big one. A challenging 10-page assignment. A terrifying concept at the time. We were able to choose any novel we wanted so long as it was originally an English language novel. I chose Pride & Prejudice because I wanted to finally read it to the end. I wound up falling head over heels in love with the novel. In the end, I wrote my research paper on gender relations and marriage.

After submitting my assignment, my teacher approached me after class to say that I did a wonderful job. She told me that she thought I should move up to the Honors (or the advanced) literature class the following year. Before this, I had always stuck with the regular classes in all my subjects. I didn’t think I was remotely smart enough to do the Honors level classes. They seemed out of reach. Daunting, even. But after hearing her advice, I plucked up the courage to enroll in not only the Honors literature class but also several Honors classes in other subjects like science and math. Without that bit of encouragement, I would never be where I am today. I would’ve stuck with the regular classes, still determined to believe I was too dumb to do anything more.

That’s why this exact book means so much to me. It transcends beyond just being one of my favorite novels. It became a symbol of newfound self-confidence.

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Vintage 70s Blouse

Usually, I’m a stickler for decluttering unworn or unloved items from my wardrobe. However, I can’t bear to part with my vintage iridescent pink blouse from the 70s. It has an asymmetrical frill running down the front, puffed up shoulders, a high neckline, a button-up back, and a cinched-in waist. It has a lot going on! I fell in love with it when I discovered it in a vintage shop in San Francisco early last year. It looked like something straight from the Gucci runway or a Studio 54 party. At first, I was certain the blouse wouldn’t fit but I managed to squeeze into it. I feel downright cool sporting it! However, I just can’t figure out how to style it! It’s too cropped to tuck it into my high waisted jeans or skirts. But it looks odd not tucked in with the bottoms I own. Regardless, I am determined to one day find the perfect way to style it!

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Magazines & Cutouts

Magazines, especially fashion magazines, aren’t an unusual collector’s item. There’s no way I’m the only person with an ever-expanding collection. I used to own a whole shelf full of a decade’s worth of Vogues and Harper’s Bazaars. In my teenage years, I was an avid fashion fan who subscribed to all the major publications. Magazines were the only way to get fashion inspiration before social media and blogs! These days I’m not as keen. Nowadays, fashion magazines are mostly a one-off purchase I make whenever I’m bored at the airport. Instagram and Tumblr are my new go-to online spaces to find style inspiration. That being said, I still closely guard my now smaller collection. It’s always a blast to look at how much fashion and style has evolved over the past decade. My oldest is a Malaysian Harper’s Bazaar from 2008 most likely purchased when I lived in Singapore. I also keep several folders full of cutouts of my favorite editorials over the years. I still continue to use them as decoration for my room. More recently as backgrounds for my beauty blog photos. Turns out it was, in fact, a good idea to keep these!

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Vintage Cameo Necklace

This gorgeous vintage cameo pendant necklace has the honor of being my only “real” piece of jewelry. How adult of me! As much as I love the look of it, I haven’t worn it in ages. The necklace was a very generous and unexpected gift from my dad in high school. I wore it religiously for a few months but soon felt uncomfortable about wearing such an expensive piece of jewelry. Actually, I think this very well might be one of the most expensive items I own, computer and phone aside. In fact, I forgot I had this in my collection until the move. As I was packing I rediscovered it resting in its little red box. I need to remind myself to wear it more, even though it is difficult to style with my new, minimalist clothes. Loved pieces are meant to be worn, not admired from afar!

Well, that’s it! I had more keepsakes I wanted to include but I decided to limit myself to 5 so I don’t go overboard with the writing. Do you have any keepsakes you hold on to? I’d love to hear your 5 items!

4 Comments

  1. Stephen

    Enjoyed reading your article and impressed w/ your photos. The “styling” w/ fashion mags; both cutouts and pages, are inventive and well done. The choice of photos used as backgrounds for the subject work to enhances the overall image. Lighting and resolution are very good, too.

    I can’t remember where I found that vintage piece. Europe or the US? Certainly in an antique or estate section of a jewelry store. I always pass quickly to the estate section as unique, well-designed, and high-quality pieces can be found at very reasonable prices. Also, these pieces are throw-backs to another era of personal taste, jewelry design, and craftsmanship that interest my eye. While not expressly shopping for a cameo, the condition, the detail, and the age attracted me to it. Upon seeing it the idea came to me of giving it to you. Happy that you continue to treasure it.

    My memory has been jogged! I found it at the vintage jewelry, rugs & antiques shop on Hyde Park Square in Cincinnati.

    Keep me posted! Dad

    Liked by 1 person

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