I am a chronic collector. Every few months I develop a new obsession, rounding up as many of a thing as I can. I inspect, catalog, and adore each item for months, then truck it off to a pawn shop or antiques vendor to make room for the next thing.
Here are some of the collections that filled our house over the years, not in any particular order: key chains, antique buttons, snuff boxes, vintage photographs, Daguerreotype photographs, carved wooden and stone figurines, watches, perfume bottles, coins, antique and foreign currency, stone and most recently indigo pottery.
The first choice of what to collect was made for me when my mother, who too loves hand embroidering, gave me a few similar but yet different needles for my school project. Some had eyes bigger than the shaft, some had round eye with a very long shaft with a sharp pointy end. In awe of seeing the fabric change its texture and 'look' with different needles, I was caught up in the romance of my life. I wanted more.
We spent Thursdays sweating under the brutal humid Bombay sun, scouring dusty flea markets and haggling at roadside thread shops. If we got an early enough start; by the time we arrived home for lunch we'd usually amassed a decent amount of treasure. We'd spread our finds out on the coffee table, pull the appropriate fabric, threads, needles and got settled for a quiet creative afternoon where the light was best. My grandma would settle next to us overlooking our work and reminiscing her days when her eye-sight allowed her to embroider as well.
Collecting plays a huge role in shaping who I am. It has taught me to love history, enjoy myself, and value the experience of the elderly. I’ve learned to appreciate small details and craftsmanship. These experiences also revealed the introverted, nerdy girl I am at heart.
As the story tends to go, once I turned 14 I stopped collecting buttons and started collecting friends, books, and illicit experiences. I’ve since rediscovered the nerdy girl I was before. I love collecting and treasure hunting, and nothing is more precious to me than sitting in companionable silence with someone equally obsessed with details.
I started this post because I was thinking about collecting things, and wondering why I treasure my buttons, dozens of hoops, piles of old photographs, and rows of broken figurines. Each appeals to me for different reasons, and each requires their own post. But I love that sitting down to write about the things I have collected really means writing about my mother, my favorite childhood memories, and who I am.