If you could completely reimagine your life, unbeholden to your past, what would it look like? When Sarah Reid’s son Zane turned 18, she experienced a “what am I doing with my life?” moment. She’d been working in non-profit administration but had always wanted to do interior design for spaces that served low-income communities. Thus was born her business, Small Victories Design. A move from Massachussetts to California facilitated this transformation. In the move, Sarah left behind thrifted finds that filled her attic, basement, and garage. As a “borderline hoarder,” leaving them behind proved difficult. But in having the courage to let go of one incarnation of herself (and most of the objects that made up that life) she embraced another.
Kristen’s Storied Home in Kansas City is full of furniture and jewelry passed down from family members, but she is particularly sentimental about this buffet made by her grandfather and great-grandfather in 1963 (and considers it one of her most precious possessions). She uses the made-up word anemoia from John Koenig’s Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, meaning “a pang of nostalgia for times you’ve never experienced,” to describe her love affair with objects that tell stories of the past.
One of the things that makes family heirlooms so special are the stories they collect over time. Objects give us the ability to recall adventures that have been told and retold, or spark the memory they carry. Cherished items often cross oceans, countries, and generations to create their stories, probably with a few scratches and bumps along the way. It’s as if these treasures traveled down the branches of our family tree and ended up in our living rooms.
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