by EMMA BARRIE
I have a desk I found on the street. I carried it up three flights of stairs by myself. I have six records, but no record player. I bought them because they were colorful or had funny album art (a guy in a beret pretending to make out with a baguette) and I thought I'd hang them on my wall. I did, and my living room looked like a dorm room. So now I just have records — with titles like "Bread, Love and Cha Cha Cha" — which I've never actually heard. I have 3D glasses I saved from when I saw Toy Story 3 in 3D. I popped out the lenses, so now I can use them to look goofy or hip whenever I want.
I have an old watch that used to belong to my grandfather that I took in to get the battery replaced. The man laughed at me and told me I just had to wind it every morning. Now it's a thing I look at when I want to remember how young and inexperienced I am. I have nine journals and notebooks, most of which are a quarter of the way full (or less), all of which have neat handwriting for the first few pages and then messy handwriting thereafter.
I own a lot of books with colorful spines, nothing with drab colors, signifying my lack of classics and my abundance of modern lady fiction. I still have note cards with my name in cursive on the front that acted as thank-you notes for bat mitzvah presents, 11 years ago. I promised all my relatives I’d put their money, or silver Tiffany's heart necklaces, or binoculars capable of night vision "to good use!" I have boat shoes I've never worn because they make me look like a Nantucket mom. I have a pocket book from when I tried to be a real lady, and a leather uncle-wallet from when I succumbed to being a little boyish. I have a guitar I play every third Thursday of every fourth month when I’ve had a few margaritas (only "Landslide" and alternate versions of "Landslide" I wrote myself). I have two scratch tickets that are technically worth $13 if I could figure out where to collect my winnings.
I have a sweater vest that doesn’t look good with anything else I own, as is often the case with sweater vests. But I refuse to give it away because I’m convinced that someday I will own the right undergarment. I have a replica "Dundie" trophy given to me by a gray-haired-really-goofy-looked-like-he-should-be-doing-magic-tricks customer from my salad days of barista-ing after I told him I loved The Office. I tried to give him a free coffee in exchange and he said, "No, then I’d feel weird. It just is what it is."
I have a box of incense from when I thought I was that person. I have two still cameras from when I thought I was THAT person. I have body lotion I bought in France over a year ago that I still use, but it’s just Nivea (German-owned, Duane Reade-sold). I have a lot of things I thought would be cute but as it turns out, I don't have the head for: headbands, handkerchiefs, beanies with earflaps.
I have two pairs of headphones from when I thought good sound was a thing that mattered to me, and a mug that says, "#1 Father" from sweaty August days spent in the village, smirking at ironic thrift store mugs sold on street corners. I have a wall calendar with photographs of flowers and italicized inspirational quotes I worry visitors will think I’m serious about (e.g. "Cut the 'im' out of impossible.") I have a Blade Runner DVD from when I tried to get a guy to like me and I have a Father of the Bride 2 DVD from when I was just being honest with myself. I have approximately 8-12 backpacks and tote bags that I switch depending on outfit, occasion, or if one somehow collected a heap of gold glitter at the bottom and I don't want to get it on my uncle-wallet. I have a non-working flip phone and its archaic Duplo-looking charger.
I have a pair of black Converse from high school on the tongue of which my then seventeen year-old boyfriend wrote, "I love you" in Sharpie. I have a shirt claiming that I helped orient college freshmen and a few sweatshirts claiming I went to colleges I only visited. I have a lot of those socks that make it look like I'm not wearing socks, and two foreign Netflix DVDs from one year ago I have never watched nor exchanged. But it's important that you know they’re foreign.
I have a nightstand that my stepfather went out and bought me on my first day of college while I sat on my bare plasticy dorm bed and watched one roommate hang her "I Love Lucy" poster and another roommate scotch tape her Weezer concert tickets to the wall. I have a lot of pennies and nickels in a mug that says "Happy Birthday!" in a fun party-font, as if it was scribbled by the strings of balloons, over a picture of my then nine year-old brother and a five year-old me. I’m not sure who the recipient was, or what parent forced us to get it for what other parent or grandparent. But somehow it made its way back to me.
I have a stuffed lamb I pretend is a forever childhood thing, but really my mom sent it to me a year ago. I have two quilts from Urban Outfitters that I pretend I just can’t remember where I bought. (Family heirlooms?) I have a replica mix CD of the one made in The Perks of Being a Wallflower (though his was a cassette). I downloaded each song one at a time on Limewire, on my turquoise transparent iMac. I burned the CD with my much coveted and finally obtained attachable turquoise-to-match CD burner. I have a lot of letters from people I don't talk to anymore, telling me they will always love me. I imagine showing them to my children when they question my past, or ask if I had a life before they were born.
I pack it all up.
Emma Barrie is the senior contributor to This Recording. She is a writer living in Brooklyn. She tumbls here and twitters here, and you find more of her work here. She last wrote in these pages about her grandmother.
"A Treatease Dedicated to the Avian Airess From North East Nubis (1000 questions, 1 answer)" - Shabazz Palaces (mp3)
"The King's New Clothes Were Made By His Own Hands" - Shabazz Palaces (mp3)
"Youology" - Shabazz Palaces (mp3)
"Free Press and Curl" - Shabazz Palaces (mp3)