Nicknacks

I will never be minimalist, a giver away of objects that don’t bring me joy. Nor will I join the latest Swedish craze of death cleaning. As far as I’m concerned, I spent what seems like a lifetime cleaning up after my daughter, and she may as well return that favour when I die.

I like my house filled with books and nicknacks. I look up and see a row of seven miniature blue and white houses that I brought back from Amsterdam in my twenties and think fondly of the four days I spent there. Admittedly, three of these were wasted in various bathrooms as I valiantly fought off food poisoning. I couldn’t look at mayonnaise nor chips for eight long years thereafter. Ironically, the delft houses are now on a shelf in my kitchen, a sober reminder to check use by dates and abide by the three-day rule for leftovers.

In the lounge room, two carved wooden cows take me back to the year we spent in Switzerland. Real cows greeted us daily as we waited at the bus stop in front of a row three storey apartment blocks. They seemed as incongruous there as the many cows here in my living room. Somehow, these two carved cows attracted bovine themed curtains, black and white ‘cowhide’ gumboots and a large painting of a heifer by a well-known artist.

Then there are the two pairs of babies’ boots – my own and my daughter’s, 35 years apart. While I have no memory of wearing my own, I do have memories of my daughter wearing hers. This includes collecting her from childcare and hearing her cry all the way home. When I finally removed her shoes, I found that one of her toes had accidentally been bent back in the boot. I felt faint looking at the deformed toe, but it snapped back into position and her smile returned as if nothing had happened.

On another shelf are some of the penguins I acquired after watching a movie at 3am when I was 19. It was called Mr Forbush and the Penguins. I don’t know whether it was the twilight zone that flicked a switch in my brain or whether the movie was really that compelling, but I began noticing penguins everywhere. Before I knew it, my house turned into a rookery. Of course, once friends noticed my obsession, they feed it for years. I was the easiest person for whom to buy a present. Truth be told, I have grown out of them, but they have become somewhat of a talisman, and I still keep ten or perhaps twenty on show.

Sometimes, when I’m feeling a little morbid, I try to imagine my nicknacks at an op-shop. It is a depressing thought. Instead of thrilled punters on the Antiques Roadshow, I imagine strangers picking up each of my possessions and wondering, ‘what was she thinking?’ This is exactly what I think when I see someone’s treasures randomly placed with mementos from another person’s life. The objects look lacklustre and dull as stripping them of their story has rendered them lifeless.

Yet, when I look at my nicknacks, I connect with them individually. Each one beckons me to remember a moment in my life: the time my grandmother gave me her wedding ring, the time a lover chanced upon a perfect gift or the time my daughter brought back a hand-painted tray from Myanmar. These objects become a container for a story.

Minimalism, on the other hand, is like a brand-new, expensive notebook. It may be beautiful to look at yet never used for fear of despoiling. It’s not for me. I like my dog-eared, ink-splotched notebooks, the ones that have stories inscribed in their very fabric. I consider every one of my objects to be imbued with a narrative gift, and I’m glad of it. It means I will never run out of stories to write.   

9 thoughts on “Nicknacks”

  1. This minimalist truly enjoyed your story.
    I now sit here pondering the life events that made me so. I believe it is my ‘flight’ response and the need to always be ready to take off at a moment’s notice.
    A truly thought inspiring piece. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Dear Viktoria. Just chanced upon your latest gem and thought ‘I’ll save that tasty offering’. But then like a child in front of a plate of treats, I succumbed to the allure. You’ve such a gift! And for one with pictures in her head your words paint wonderful thoughts and associations. You take me back to those green hillsides looking as if they are freshly mown and the creamy-dunn coloured cows obediently grazing where the electric fences permitted. To the memory of a cow bell in an old wares shop and the conflict about whether it would be ethical to buy and take it away. My cupboards and shelves store so many reminders of friends, places and events. In part I think they are there because we may fly to the moon but cannot osmose memories, wisdom or warnings (surely there’s be no more wars if we could)! But no matter It looks as if many will go with us. So hang onto them. Those owned by others may vanish forever. Who knows our treasures, imbued with a measure of guilt will possibly help someone to write history on day. At the very least they will show our children something of our story and values.

    Penny

    >

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Liebe Vicky, deine Geschichten sind perfekt! Wieviel Arbeit du wohl in eine jede steckst? Bei dieser musste Jochen grinsen und sagte „Mutter“. Andere Generation, die gleiche Leidenschaft. Eulen statt Pinguine. Beim Ausräumen ihres Hauses hat sie noch seine Milchzähne aufbewahrt wiedergefunden. Liebe Grüsse von den minimalistischen Deutschen Jochen&Geli PS Ich freue mich schon auf den nächsten Text!

    Liked by 1 person

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