Things I Keep

This post is part of ThinkKit by Smallbox.Prompt: Time to go through your (actual) desktop, junk drawer, or coat pockets and share an artifact from your past. A half-torn ticket stub, once-washed receipt, coffee-stained map, anything in a frame: it's all fair game. What springs to mind from your artifact? The smells, sights, and sounds? A specific feeling? Hold it in your hand, close your eyes, and go back in time to a moment.

I'm really good at getting rid of stuff. If I'm not using it, wearing it, or looking at it on a regular basis, consider it gone. Moving into a smaller apartment this past spring forced me to purge a lot of things I just didn't need. (In the process, I think I accidentally got rid of some stuff I really do need, too ... but that's another story.)

Even after moving in, I spent a lot of time over the summer continuing to get rid of objects that no longer made sense for me to have -- snow skis, old prom dresses, worn out running shoes, costumes from college -- you get the idea. I would never describe myself as a minimalist, but there's something about freeing yourself from that extra baggage that feels really good.

But okay, here's the catch. No matter how many times I clean out my closet, there are a few things I can never bring myself to throw away.

1. Wine Corks

Things I Keep - Ally Denton

Things I Keep - Ally Denton

It all started in college when I decided I was going to collect beer bottle caps, and use them to make a coffee table for our house senior year. Frat boy move, I know. But for months, I collected caps from parties, from the sidewalk, from bars, from friends -- people I barely knew started giving me their caps once they realized my obsession. It was very kind, actually.

This project, however, like most of my crafty endeavors, did not go as planned. After laying the caps out in a very intricate design, if I do say so myself, I totally botched the important part of the process. The resin I used to seal the caps to the top of the table never dried correctly (I'm still not sure why...) and as a result, I was left with a sticky, toxic mess. So naturally, we threw the table down in the basement and still managed to find some use for it most weekends.

After awhile, I was finally able to stop saving bottle caps. But my affinity for collecting the tops of alcoholic beverage containers didn't stop there, because now I collect wine corks. A classier choice? Not sure. But I'm doing it, it makes me happy, and I'd say I'm pretty close to finding another new DIY project to screw up.

2. Stickers

Things I Keep - Ally Denton

Things I Keep - Ally Denton

For a few years now, I've been casually collecting stickers. I say casually, because acquiring these stickers is not hard work. Most of them came to me for free. I have a big shoe box full now, and it's a lot of fun to sift through. Inside are stickers from Colorado, Puerto Rico, France and Spain, local Indy restaurants and breweries, surf shops, concert venues, and dozens of other random, kitschy places.

When I tell people about this collection, they usually ask where I'm going to put them all. That's a great question. And I think that's part of the reason I started collecting them in the first place. One day, it will be really cool to see them all spread out, stuck on something more permanent, a collage of all the places I've been.

3. Cards

Things I Keep - Ally Denton

Things I Keep - Ally Denton

Above is a funny card I received from my friend Anne a few months ago, asking me to be a part of her wedding this summer. I said yes, don't worry.

It wasn't until the move this spring that I finally threw out cards from my high school graduation. Hoarder status, it's fine. Clearly, I have a hard time getting rid of handwritten cards, letters, and notes. I think it's the gravity of the act -- the idea that you're literally trashing the kind words someone took the time to write and send to you, with postage, and an envelope, and all of that snail mail stuff no one likes to deal with anymore. It just feels kind of harsh.

As much as I love to laugh and poke fun of cheesy Hallmark marketing ploys, I'm a total card person. I love sending them, I love receiving them, I love picking them out. Taking the time to write to the people you care about is important for a myriad of reasons. But mostly, it's just nice. And for that, I think I can make a little extra room in my closet.