This project will document an object in my possession each day with a photograph of the object and a brief description of the object’s significance. After each post, I will begin the process of letting the object go. If you want one of the objects, I will give it to you in exchange for your story of why you are compelled to have it. I like the idea that, rather than grieving over loss, I can use this to create something new.
I am interested in memory and the objects that we attach to memory. If the objects go away, will the memories follow? Ordinary objects, in Paul Claudel’s words, “take on a sort of personality, their own face, I could almost say a soul….because they owe their existence to people and, awakened by their contact, take on their own life and autonomous activities, a sort of latent and fantastic willfulness.”*
I want to tell you about some of the things that interest me. I find great beauty in the complicated simplicity of an ancient darned sock. I like it when an aging person tells me in great detail about how their body is breaking down, all the while with a smile on their face, eyes twinkling. A man I knew lost his toes to amputation, was bed-ridden, and began to sign his emails, “Love, Stumpy.” I like mending things that are torn or broken, giving them more years of use.
I like things left unspoken, yet manifested through action. When my dad was a little boy, he would pick up the little cakes of red dirt that fell out of his boot treads on his walk to school. He put them in his pocket so that he could take them back home – where they belonged.
I like vulnerability. A woman once told me that she kept all of the vegetables that her father’s garden produced the year he died. Several years later, she had one zucchini left in her freezer, wrapped in plastic, shriveled and decaying. She could not bear to throw it out – it was all that was left.
The image that appears at the top of this page, is a house that holds the memory of its inhabitant, a man named Monkey. Growing up in rural North Carolina, I knew Monkey as an outcast, someone who I now know was misunderstood – a loner. I visit his abandoned decaying house in an attempt to absorb something of who he was, from the walls that witnessed his silent life.
*Meditation on a pair of shoes, Paul Claudel, Prose works, Biblioteque de la Pleiade, 1965