When I was a small child, I collected rocks. I liked all rocks, but ones with pretty colors and shapes were my favorite, and would immediately end up in my pocket to come home to the tin can I kept them in. I would lay them out on the floor and count and sort them, by color, by size, by type…I liked learning about different rocks. When we went on vacations or day trips, I would buy precious rocks from stores as souvenirs. I know I had my collection for a very long time, well into my 20s, but I have no idea now what happened to it…must’ve been lost in a move.
In middle school, I started collecting stickers. I had a blue and purple photo album that I would stick them in. I would then spend an hour counting them, and double checking, to see how many I had: which is a big fat OCD red flag. I remember one in particular that was a bag of Doritos and a scratch-and-sniff, so it smelled like nacho cheese. I don’t know what happened to them, either.
In high school, I collected cows. Of course, not actual cows, but figurines and such. Things with cows on them. I liked cows-I thought of them as big dogs and they are my favorite farm animal. People would buy me cow stuff as gifts. When I went to Girl Scout camp, my mother made me a little cubby out of a crate, and covered it in cow print fabric. I don’t know how many cows I had, and I am sure I counted them, but over the years many things broke or got lost, and now I have no cows, except a cow kitchen timer I got from my friend Chelsea and the cow-shaped creamer I got for Christmas from…mom?
In my 20s, I collected nothing but bad decisions. Ha, not really. Purses-I was big on purses, particularly Kate Spade’s. I couldn’t afford the real thing though, so I had several knockoffs. One day I gave them away to my friend’s daughter. I kind of wish I kept one, though, now that she is gone. Even if it was a knockoff. (I do have a genuine wallet, though. That’s gonna stay with me forever.)
In my 30s I got married, and I got this curio cabinet, and had nothing to put in it. Until one day, I received a wedding gift from my best friend from elementary school. This chick sent me all the crystal in Ireland! A butter dish, a creamer dish, a sugar bowl, and two sets of glasses-all Irish crystal. And, better to me than all of that, a Belleek platter.
My mother loves Belleek. We don’t have a whole lot in common when it comes to style, but we definitely agree on this beautiful Irish china with tiny shamrocks on it. After I got the platter, she got me a Belleek St. Brigid’s cross ornament for Christmas. It hangs prominently on the tree every year. Its only two pieces, but this is no rocks or stickers, mind you. Can’t just find these for under a buck at the corner store, or under your feet on the way to school. This is more of a lifetime collection for me, something I intend to add to a little through the years.
On the cheaper side of things, though, I have started collecting Rae Dunn pieces. She does pottery that I like. I never really cared about things like that, but one day Mark bought me a mug that said “Feminist” on it, by her, and I loved it. I loved how simple it was; how imperfect it was. I only have a few pieces, but at least with this collection I can justify the cost because pretty much everything has a purpose. My favorite piece I have is below, my boss lady nameplate. Boss Lady became my nickname when I went on the cruise with my sister, and since I started publishing, I have taken strength from that title. Also pictured are my newest additions, and let me tell ya, that little honey pot might actually be beating out boss lady for favorite piece now.
It occurred to me the other day that I have always been a collector of things, and if I had the time and money I would collect A LOT more things. I watch shows like American Pickers and think “now those people have the right idea.” And yes, I am referring both to the pickers AND the hoarders.
So, I gotta watch myself so I don’t go picking up every rock I see.
It also occurred to me that collecting was a total and terrible sign of OCD for me. Counting is and was my biggest obstacle with my disorder-I count everything. Steps, especially, and I even got myself a Fitbit solely so that when I started counting my head, I can tell myself that I don’t have to because my watch is taking care of it. It works, for a while. But every time, eventually, I start counting again. It is the one lingering symptom of my OCD that no pill can seem to fix.
However, it brings me joy. I mean, I woke this morning and saw that little honey pot and thought “gee, that’s adorable” and it brought a smile to my face. So, yeah, I’m going to collect things by the artist I like and let them bring me a little happiness. And on particularly special occasions, I might even add to my Belleek collection.
Sometimes, when we are out fishing, I will find a particularly cool rock. I will pick it up and put it in my pocket. Often, it disappears, but sometimes I reach into that pocket a few days later, and feel the little stone in my hand, and smile.