Long ago I largely abandoned trinketry; both in small forms of personal adornment and as referential vacation memorials. One day, one year, quite a while back I realized that the coarsely hewn onyx chess set in the basement behind my late father’s ashes and old paint brushes would not be finding its way to my vision of some future stately game room, where I’d plan to retire with friends after dinner for light conversation and gamesmanship. No, this naturally beautiful and uniquely patterned collection of Yucatanian gemstones had sat around upstairs, ignored and gathering dust for years, until some sudden and indifferent relegation to the family crypt.
Proudly acquired during my conquest of Cancun in the early 1990s, I had brought these rare rocks all the way home in American Airlines’ steerage: While Armstrong’s were on prominent display at the Smithsonian, I thought mine would enthrall guests in the living room, conspicuously arranged next to the rabbit-shaped lamp my wife got on sale at Bloomingdales. Nevertheless, my Mexican memento did not appear to fully underpin the windswept and interesting features of my character as I had planned. Nor did my Japanese sumi bamboo brushes, my matching his-and-her German beer steins, or my assorted collection of African wild olivewood bowls.
And it was not that long ago, that my family and I would literally mail stuff home in boxes from extended global forays. Cambodian candles and copper and comedic Chinese robes destined straight for the basement, only to be opened when the Salvation Army came calling for clothing and haberdashery donations (alas, no computer monitors). It is indeed yet another first world curse: Delivery to temptation by our very own Delilah and Bathsheba.