I ran into a friend recently who was holding a dirty small stuffed animal keychain and his passport. I asked him why and he explained that he had just come from an artist’s studio in Brooklyn who was taking portraits of his friends holding the two most sacred things they own. My friend had taken his passport because he loves to travel and the stuffed animal keychain (which, between us, looked like a fuzzy, beaten up cross between a Pokémon character and one of the extras from that movie The Hills Have Eyes) because for one reason or another untethered to sentimentality, the keychain always finds itself in his backpack.
Naturally, narcissist that I am, this got me thinking about what I consider the most sacred things I own. If I were being photographed for the series, what would I take? The anterior friend already blew my load on the passport front but as the offspring of two immigrant parents, one of which a refugee, I have long been taught that without my passport, I am effectively imprisoned. My mother actually even used to quiz me and ask what I would take if our apartment were to burn down. Every time I didn’t say my passport (usually, I opted for my childhood blanket with which I still sleep), she would yell WRONG! and ask me again but I digress.
At this point in my life, I would take the Jewish prayer book that my mom gave to me with my grandfather’s name inscribed in the front and this little gold, purportedly valueless Turkish coin that I wear on a long chain around my neck most days, which was a gift from my grandma, who wears the same one and once convinced me that every time the shank meets my necklace clasp, it means she’s thinking of me.
What I would certainly not take is any specific sweater or handbag or pair of shoes without at the very least an earnestly sentimental story attached. To be fair, though, I might revise my other answer to include a hair iron (I am almost always wearing the gold coin anyway and as I mentioned, am a narcissist). The reason for the former being that stuff is just stuff. It’s a mass of things that are only as valuable as you allow them to be but can very dangerously grow to define a putative sense of who you are if you don’t keep a thick enough wall up to sequester what’s actually important from what’s simply shiny.
So, that’s me as told through the vacuum of sacred things that I own. But what’s you?