The Sentimentality of Stuff

One thing I love about a lot of pieces I have is the memories that are attached to them. For me (and with most people, I expect), my major experience with conspicuous consumption is that I always want more shit, not so much that I get rid of the stuff I have after one use. I am a mild hoarder, particularly because I have sentimental attachments to things that other people probably wouldn’t consider that sentimental.

That said, I’ve found that this sentimentality can be a tool I can use to curb buying cravings when I have them because I already have similar things that have a history attached to them. My series of gold hoops are a great example. I look at them and can reflect on the years in my life they represent, and that reflection imbues with a little something more than just being another extraneous piece of jewellery I wear.

So, let’s take a trip down memory lane, shall we? Starting from top to bottom we have:


I bought these in November of 2017. My two friends and I took the train from Oxford to London on a rainy Saturday. We wandered around most of the day, in and out of coffee shops (and into Liberty of London, which was my first time there and, oh, the various fancy smells), ending up at Rockit Vintage on Brick Lane in the afternoon. My one friend and I bought the same pair of earrings – big ole textured hoops – because they were on sale for two quid. We had dinner at a random Cote Brasserie (what is with the UK and fancy restaurant chains?), met our friend’s friend, and then took a train back to Oxford. It was a good day.


I bought these hoops from ASOS for the St Cross summer ball, which was Game of Thrones-themed (see below for me on the Iron Throne!!). I was trying to channel some Cersei vibes, and so I figured these would do the trick, whilst simultaneously be something I would wear frequently beyond the ball. My partner and I went to the ball with my good friend and his girlfriend. Matt and I ended up leading our team in a Ceilidh, getting our tarot read, and eating pigeon (would not recommend. It was weird). OH MY GOD, I also just remember that I beat Matt, my friend, and his girlfriend at hitting one of those carnival heavy-weight things where you have to whack a hammer and the little metal thing shoots up and dings. I am super competitive and that made my night. I also won a coconut because I played some weird British garden game involving coconuts and apparently did well?


My mom gave me this pair of earrings when she was cleaning out her jewellery drawer when she thought we were going to have to sell our house to help pay for my dad’s medical care. I don’t know when she bought them, or where they’re from, but I do love the idea of creating family heirlooms.


I bought (or rather, my mom bought) these during fall break of my sophomore year of college. My mom and I had gone to Bloomingdales on Michigan Avenue (knowing her, we were probably trying to find her a pink lipstick to replace ‘Sleek Pink,’ her favourite lipstick which had been discontinued about 20 years prior. She keeps finding errant tubes over the years so she still hasn’t run out, but she’s always “on her last tube.” I don’t know, guys, it’s some sorcery). I bought these and another silver pair from the Marc Jacobs counter. Fall semester sophomore year was challenging. I had almost dated a boy and then we didn’t date but then dated later, but at that moment I was feeling a bit on the outs with that group of friends because of me and this boy’s particular history. I was also finally confronting the grief of losing a family friend the prior December. I bought these earrings and about a month later, I finally went to Duke’s Counselling and Psychological Services (CAPS). It was the first time I’d been to therapy since I was ten. I got really lucky with the counsellor I was paired with, and it was truly revelatory. It’s why I fucking lovvvveeeeee therapy (although I go intermittently because $$ and time) and I like knowing that these earrings have been with me through some of the most transformative years of my life.


I bought these earrings as a set for double-pierced ears, but unfortunately, one of the small ones fell out while I was wearing it! Sad times. But, I remember buying these from CUSP, the weird teen Neiman Marcus store (which I only just discovered), in Water Tower Place. My dentist’s office was on the 9th floor of the building, and I’d just had my first cavity drilled. I really thought I’d get through life without any cavities – it was a point of pride with me – so this was retail therapy to the max. I was definitely still drooling because I couldn’t feel the left half of my mouth.


The ear-lobe hugger trend was just starting (or at least I’d just noticed it), so I bought these at a Bloomingdales in October, right before I went to Scotland to visit my partner. It was something of a weird (an unnecessary) ritual I had, buying a new article of clothing before each trip to visit him as we would only see each other every three to four months. I have a random collection now – a Bruce Springsteen shirt, these earrings, a plaid shirt, a white t-shirt that was accidentally dyed light blue at this house. I like that I have memories of those visits attached to those items, but I also look back and think that it was a dumb thing to do. But, at least now I have proof that I’m cool and like Bruce Springsteen.

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