Separating the Treasure from the Trash

You never know what you might find while emptying a house

  • My wedding ring from my first marriage. I had no idea I still had it. The friend who was taking stuff to Goodwill for us found it in a Ziplock in a pile of stuff. Now I once again am confronted with the question of what to do with it.
  • A Tiffany pen. I must have bought it to give as a gift because I would never indulge myself with such a fancy pen. Evidently, after I bought it I couldn’t bring myself to give it away. I didn’t open the box or use it; I just… kept it. Found it in my underwear drawer. Not sure how/why I stored it there. Life is full of mysteries.
  • A tiddlywinks game that belonged to my mom when she was a kid. Have no memory of getting it from her but I’m glad I have it. Wish I knew if Mom had been a good tiddlywinker. Sigh.
  • So many missing socks! And of course, I had given up on finding them long ago, so I had thrown out their mates. It’s like an O. Henry story, isn’t it?
  • Books. Books. Books. More books. Books I do not remember buying. Books I do not remember reading.
  • Spices that I bought when I was in college. I’m serious. Please explain to me why I’ve been carting a bottle of turmeric around for forty years. Turmeric is not rare, or expensive, or even essential. Plus, isn’t there a certain amount of deterioration that occurs with spices? WHAT WAS I THINKING?
  • A little drawing that artist Nam June Paik made for me while I was interviewing him (I framed it).
  • My beloved, deceased dog’s collar and tags. Also, a rubber stamp I had made of his paw print. Collar: discard. Tags: save. Rubber stamp: definitely save.

Staff writer, The New Yorker. Author of The Library Book, The Orchid Thief, and more…Head of my very own Literati.com book club (join me!)

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