• Bridge Ladies

    Bridge Ladies When I set out to learn about my mother's bridge club, the Jewish octogenarians behind the matching outfits and accessories, I never expected to fall in love with them. This is the story of the ladies, their game, their gen, and the ragged path that led me back to my mother.
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Just A Memory Without Anywhere To Stay

Tonight was the opening of CAMERA SOLO, Patti Smith’s photography show at the Wadsworth Atheneum. It was very nice of her to choose a museum in Hartford, Connecticut, home of Wallace Stevens, Mark Twain, Katharine Hepburn and Totie Fields. The photographs are intimate, full of personal references, a poet’s associations. Virginia Woolf’s cane, Roberto Bolano’s chair, Robert Mapplethorpe’s slippers, her father’s cup, Whitman’s tomb, Blake’s grave, Brancusi’s grave, Hesse’s typewriter, Keats’ bed, and Rimbaud’s utensils. And then she rocked the capital.

What are your sacred objects?

38 Responses

  1. Duty. Faith. Family. Love. Honor.

  2. a letter my dad gave me.

  3. Framed on my wall, an autographed photo of Richard Nixon, which his staff assistant sent me in 1972, when I was eight years old, in response to a letter to the White House I wrote.

  4. A Pan Am spoon my Dad gave me, almost 40 years ago, as a souvenir from one of his trips. It’s pointy and cool, and I use it almost every day.

  5. A Dogon mask I bought in Segou while driving through Mali. It’s beautiful.

  6. A green stone that fits in the palm of my hand and has an indentation for my thumb.

    • Reminds me of the great Alice Walker book Finding the Green Stone. Lucky you for finding it!

      • I’m embarrassed to say I’m not familiar with that Walker novel, but this stone has always felt like a little prize. I fished it out of a bowl on my last day with a particular therapist and it’s been a sort of talisman ever since.

    • I have a green stone, too. It rides around with me in my wallet and has done so ever since 2005, when it was given to me by a stump of a man on the streets of Barcelona. I gave him two euros and he gave me that little glass gem with the word esperanza, teaching me my first Spanish word, other than Hello. It means hope

  7. Wedding ring, mattress, laptop, Kindle (yes, I said that and ye can all just stuff it) and probably now that link to Patti’s interview about the exhibit. God I just love her.

  8. My four kids.

    • I was really trying to fight against this concept of tangible objects but as I sit here, reading other people’s comments, I realize there is one thing that does stand out. One thing that would bring me heartache if my house were suddenly destroyed and that is my mother’s letters, written to me while I was away at school and then, later, as I traveled throughout Europe. The disarming smell of nicotine emanates from them and when I handle them I am suddenly a child again, cuddled up in her arms without a worry in the world.

  9. I keep losing them when I move. Sacred has to be intangible when baggage limits come into play.

  10. Katharine, not Katherine Hepuburn.

    A little silver tray, circa 1933, perhaps two inches by three inches, on which is engraved “For KW from The Snarks.”

  11. A souvenir cross from the National Cathedral in D.C., that my father bought for his mother when he was in college. He gave it to me after she died, I don’t know why he gave it to me, but it’s almost the only “object” he has ever given me so of course it means a lot. My mother accidentally broke it. I have it wrapped up safely hidden, against the day when I can figure out how to fix it.

  12. (Of course, Hepburn should also be spelled correctly when one is correcting the spelling of Katharine, as one so often is.)

  13. the mountains, the Bach cello suites, my rings, my coffeepot

  14. The map my wife gave me to her house for our first date. It’s a little tattered and water damaged, as am I, but thirty-three years and four kids later, I still need the occasional reminder on where to find her.

  15. A singing bowl I bought from a Tibetan refugee in Nepaltwenty years ago. The merchant was gentle and kind, the bowl still sings a beautiful song and the simple carved stick he gave me to play the bowl is just as valuable to me as the melded metal bowl. My guitars hold a special place in my heart, the wood and craftsmanship that went into a vessel to transport music. I like the look and feel of them as well as the sound of an instrument that has weathered a few decades. Pieces of paper with song lyrics and chords, written years and years ago by an old hippie guitar buddy, are still in the gear compartment of my old acoustic, meaningful because they just happened to be out of the case of another guitar that was stolen back in the 1980s. When I play guitar later, I will play an old, sentimental tune. Thank you for this reminder of the meaning of things.

  16. A painting of book spines in which my husband included one which doesn’t yet exist.

    My grandmother’s thin, gold wedding band.

    My other grandmother’s big, cushion-cut peridot engagement ring.

    A small gnome painted on a scrap of wood.

  17. A note my grown son attached to a Mother’s Day bouquet: “Mom, thanks for being the best mother a son could ever have.”

  18. My mother’s journal from her last year. Mother’s, grandmother’s, and great-grandmother’s wedding rings. A set of Through Golden Windows books. Girl Scout Handbook, 1953. A fake-gold bracelet my mother received (illicitly) from the only man she ever loved — he had their initials etched into it out-of-order, hoping no one would be the wiser…

  19. FYI: Virginia Woolf.

  20. My film camera, a Nikon F100, and whatever Fuji Pro film I can lay my hands on. Nothing makes me feel more like myself than hearing the film advance and knowing something surprising and wonderful is on it.

  21. The cowboy boots my grandfather gave me as a birthday present 13 years ago. I’ve had them patched, sewn and re-heeled probably three pairs over and I refuse to think of the day when nothing more can be done to keep them going. May I be buried with them on my feet.

  22. A hollow point bullet. More totemic than sacred. And just now remembering that story has my forehead burning.

  23. No sacred objects – don’t believe in idolatry – yet there are beloved items, such as my grandfather’s wedding ring (which I wear on a different digit), a family photo album from the 1930s and my grandmother’s mixing bowls that reinforce an idea of family and love and continuance which, for me, is sacred.

  24. howse about a sacred song? it’s the real deal for me:

  25. how about a sacred song?

    • Sweat. No doubt. I see it as a bird bringing food to her chicks. It’s a combination of sadness and joy, it seems. I carry it around with me all day, the sadness and the joy that is, I try to shuck the hull of the gift for I find it gets in the way. if that made sense. Sacred? There is no such thing. There is only want.

  26. Aside from the literally sacred items on my home altar, family photos, books, food, and my reputation.

  27. I have a signed copy of Pornucopia by Piers Anthony, the man responsible for my love of reading and writing. I also have a beautiful collection of memorabilia of the subject of the biography I’m writing, some given to me by his friends and family. Priceless.

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