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  • I read Monica Drake’s beautiful story this morning and thought: what a lucky little girl her daughter is, to have such a wise mother. I thought about all the children growing up with an abundance of toys and stuff, most of which they don’t really develop a relation to – because they keep getting new things.

    I’m sure I, too, had many toys when I was a child, but the only ones I really remember caring about were some plastic cars that I used to play with in my grandparents’ yard, creating intricate infrastructure in a pile of sand and gravel. That, and a rag doll I couldn’t sleep without, until one day I came home from day care to find the doll torn to pieces by our dog. I was crushed, of course, but I soon realized that I could get by just fine without her, as long as I had good friends and my parents' loving arms.

    A few years ago, my dog died (a different dog). I know that to most of you a dog is just, well, a dog, but to me, Snus was a personality, my best friend, and really someone I couldn’t live without. So I ran away. I spent most of the spring, the summer and the early fall away from home, travelling through Europe, chasing my own shadow, I suppose.

    When I returned to my apartment, I called my mother to tell her I was safely home. The word ‘home’ felt empty to me now that Snus was gone, and she picked up on the melancholy. “Admit that you’re a little happy to be back, to sleep in your own bed?” she asked, hopeful. “Not really,” I said. “But surely it must feel good to be surrounded by your own things again,” she continued, knowing how much I loved my books and records, my Mac, my chair.

    Now, this is a woman who loves to potter about her home, gardening, furnishing and decorating; I don't think she has ever been able to relate to my restlessness.

    I have a mug, a blue ceramic mug that is good to hold, I’ve had it for seventeen years and I always drink my tea from that cup. My mom said: “I’m sure you at least missed having morning tea at your own kitchen table, you must have missed your blue mug.” I tried to make her understand that during all those weeks of travelling and staying in cheap hostels, it had felt so incredibly good not to have a relationship with THINGS. I would come to a new place every day, I’d cook my dinner in well-used pots and pans and eat from chipped plates, using cutlery that didn’t match, drink out of glasses and cups that belonged to no one and everyone, and it made me feel so free. My mother sighed, genuinely resigned. “Will you ever settle down?” she said.

    I look around now and see all these things I’m surrounded with, and I'm unable to name one thing I couldn’t live without. I certainly have a lot of stuff (who doesn’t!) and I do care about my beautiful apartment and most of the things I have collected over the years. But I know I could leave home and all my belongings this very instant and not look back, because what really matters is what you carry inside, the only thing worth holding on to; the love of friends and family.

    That is something that you can carry with you anywhere you go, and it doesn’t weigh you down. It is also something that can’t be torn to pieces.
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