Tchotchke is a Yiddish word meaning knickknack or trinket. More generally, it means stuff, junk, or, if you have delusions of grandeur, collectables. I have a lot. And to me they are indeed collectables. Once I’m gone and someone else has to deal with them, they will be junk and most likely end up in the trash.
Writing in The Guardian, Blanche Marvin, age 93, says she’s “never lonely in this house, because I have my life with me.”* I know how she feels. Each time I look at, for example, the shelf pictured above, I am flooded with memories.
The little white polar bear I picked up at the San Diego Zoo on a visit there with my dear friend Mollie; the piece reminds me of Mollie, more than of the zoo. The wooden cart near the back on the left I picked up in Costa Rica; what a flood of memories from that trip. The hand-turned wooden container was made by my brother, Ken, who also made the pens inside it. The maroon vase on the far right was a gift from my friend Roger; Roger is gone now, but the vase always brings back memories of our many years of friendship. The little sea bird I picked up on one of my many trips to Port Aransas, which evokes memories of that quaint seaport, Shorty’s Bar, and my friends Crickett and Brad with whom I often traveled there. And the black grand prize ribbon was given to me at my sixtieth birthday party; it says, “Older Than Dirt.” Indeed, especially 16 years on.
And that’s just one shelf. More items are scattered over the apartment and some are even stored in a box in my closet; I rotate items occasionally.
I keep thinking I should clean up this stuff, downsize this junk. And should I get an expiration date due to some disease or other, maybe I will. But otherwise, I think I’m just leaving these precious items. Let someone else worry about them after I’m gone. Years and years in the future, of course!