When I wasn't looking, it appears that I turned into my mother, in at least once respect: I cannot bring myself to replace or upgrade the things I own just because they are timeworn.
I am not cheap, just sentimental.
When I say "I have shoes older than you," I mean it literally. I have the black suede pumps I bought when I was 19. They have three inch heels; there is no chance I will ever wear them again. But I cannot bear to part with them.
The combination lock from my junior high gym locker sits in my desk drawer. What in the heck will I ever do with a purple lock? But I still know the combination, and just can't let it go.
I have boxes of correspondence from my younger days (when folks used to write actual letters), along with front pages of newspapers from pivotal moments in history, the program books from my college plays, birthday cards from my late great-aunt, and Florida postcards from my late grandmother.
I keep piles of old school portraits of my friends' children and out-of-town relatives, because once I put the newest photo on the refrigerator, I don't know what to do with the old one. I can't very well just throw away their little faces, can I?
Thirty years ago, my friend Betty gave me a cup she had thrown in pottery class, and I loved it. In fact, I cherished it so much that I didn't want to drink from it, lest I break it. For three decades I have used the mug as a pencil cup.
My 25-year-old microwave? Why, it's my last appliance from my first apartment, how could I replace it?
In my cedar chest you'll find the fabulous shirt embroidered for me by my college roommate Lisa, for which I apologize not one whit. However, beneath it lies the outfit I wore when I graduated from high school, my first work suit, the dresses I wore to stand up in my then-best friend's first and second weddings, the short I wore on Joel's and my first date and the sweater I was wearing when he proposed. Not to mention my mom's cashmere sweaters from high school, and white leather gloves which seem to have belonged to my grandmother or great-grandmother, or at least someone to whom I was related.
There's the rub: In every family, there is always a sentimental fool like me who becomes the repository for the flotsam and jetsam of the generations. I have my great-grandmother's kitchen spatula, my grandmother's mahjong set and my late father-in-law's empty tallis bag.
No joke: I actually have wineglasses that belonged to my aunt's former husband's great-aunt.
My husband is just as much of a sap as I am. His dad was an amateur photographer, and we have several of his old cameras, plus albums and boxes and bags of his photographs. Some of the prints are of people we don't even know. We also have a pair of my husband's baby shoes, his parents' first menorah and his grandfather's tailoring shears.
And we love all of these things—or at least most of them.
It's true that I resist upgrading some of my belongings partly out of fear. When I traded in my old blackberry for a "smart" version, the AT&T saleswoman practically had to pry the old model out of my hand. (For the record, the new model is even more awesome.) But I must admit more was at stake than learning something new, because when the phone company powered off my old blackberry for the last time, I found myself tearing up and had to look away.
And I wondered why my daughter begged to keep the pillows from our torn old coach when we got a new one.