Some items travel with us through time. We keep these items that link us to past iterations of ourselves, of special times in our lives and as tokens that bind us to the people that moved through our space and left imprints that whisper of past times and places. We cherish these items, these totems, and in doing so imbue them with a supernatural that call to us on many levels. Each item has its own spirit, formed from the life events they traveled with us.
These items are lovingly tucked away in jewelry boxes, bottom drawers or closets. Seen fleetingly as we dig through these places for other every day things that we need and use with thoughtless connection. We smile on these totems as we see them, sometimes touching them with gentle finger strokes, as memories flit through our mind on butterfly wings or fell us with the hammer of grief and loss.
My memory boxes and closets harbour many such totems. The ring my father received as a baby. My mother's wedding ring. The matchsticks that my husband used to spell out "I Love You" on my front porch when we were dating. Locks of hair from my children's first hair cuts. A blanket my grandmother crocheted and many of my grandfather's and father's woodworking tools. A decanter set from my grandparent's bar. A pair of favorite sweats from my high school days. An odd assortment of Christmas ornaments from every vacation my family has taken. I collect totems, the physical manifestations of memory and times captured. These are my links.
Some totems are often meant to be passed on to the next generation. Stories shared of their beginnings and what they represent. The passing of a totem bond can be as easy as the giving of a hug and some items have only one connection, the sentimentality a one way bond.
In previous times, in different cultures, the passing of an important totem would have been a grand ceremony for a family or a tribe. In others it's as simple and as meaningful as opening a closet door and taking a jacket off a coat hanger.
Last night I was rooting through the coat closet for a jacket to wear on a walk with the dogs. My fingers brushed over a black denim jacket tucked far back in the closet. I smiled as I recalled buying it at a flea market that no longer exists, the many hikes I took wearing it, and what it meant to the teenage me wearing it most days. I took it off the hanger, touching the metal buttons with gentle fingers, feeling the worn softness of the denim, fixing the collar. And then I turned it around. There it was. The artwork of a friend, a design he made for me and painted on my jacket. We're still friends, not nearly as close as when this jacket received it's markings, because life choices took us in different directions, but friends none the less. This jacket, those memories, link us.
But as I held that jacket, standing in the hallway, smiling as the memories danced in my mind's eye like fireflies on a summer night, I also knew the time was right.
I called for my daughter, this wonderful girl who listens to the Beatles, wants to save the planet and recently called herself a modern day flower child.
When she came to see what I wanted, I showed her the front of this plain black Lee denim jacket, circa 1983, and asked if she wanted it. She looked at it, frowned a bit. I could see she was unimpressed and about to politely decline my offer so I wordlessly turned it around. She gasped and rushed over to touch it, laughing and asking where I got it. I shared the back story as stroked the paint, looked over the denim and straightened the collar.
She put that jacket on and all those wonderful memories of mine wrapped around my daughter and became hers to build upon.