• Bright Things #5: My Baby Toys, Painted by My Father

    One of the themes of The Memory Collectors is our relationship to physical objects — the memories, emotions, and power they hold for us. Every week leading up to the book’s release, I’ll share the story of an object that’s special to me.

    This painting was a gift from my father on my 2nd birthday. It shows all of my favorite toys, including the blanket I carried around until it was in shreds. It hung in my bedroom when I was a child and later, in my daughter’s.
     
    I have other pieces of art by my father, but this one is special because he made it for me. Receiving this gift is one of my earliest memories. I remember the painting lying flat on the kitchen table, and my father pointing to each toy, to see if I recognized it.
     
    It delights me that here is a special object memorializing other objects that were once important to me. But mostly this painting reminds me of how loved I was, and am.
  • Bright Things #4: Irma and Bunny

    One of the themes of The Memory Collectors is our relationship to physical objects — the memories, emotions, and power they hold for us. Every week leading up to the book’s release, I’ll share the story of an object that’s special to me.

    I’m sharing two objects this week because they come as a pair: Irma and Bunny, my daughter’s first toys. These well-loved stuffies speak to me of those bleary, wonder-filled days of early childhood, when we lived far from family and friends and for much of the time, it was just the two of us (plus furry friends). 


    Irma and Bunny bring back memories of long winter days, of endless games of peekaboo and hide and seek, of tea parties and story time (and of longing for an adult conversation, if I’m being honest). When I think of these two, I see them lined up on the windowsill to watch a storm, or nestled lovingly next to our sleeping cat. 


    My daughter is thirteen years old now. She gave up Irma and Bunny some time ago, and has largely forgotten them. But I haven’t. These two make an appearance in The Memory Collectors. My own childhood toys were captured in a special piece of art that I’ll share next week. It only seemed right that I do the same for my daughter.

  • Bright Things #3: My Grandfather’s WWII Diary

    One of the themes of The Memory Collectors is our relationship to physical objects — the memories, emotions, and power they hold for us. Every week leading up to the book’s release, I’ll share the story of an object that’s special to me.

    Since we’re a few days away from Remembrance Day here in Canada, it seemed fitting to share this one today.   There’s not a lot of detail in the entries spanning from 1942-1945. I know that my grandfather was stationed in Italy, that he was a high-ranking officer and not on the front lines.

    He would have to have been very careful about what he wrote, so honestly, it’s a lot of talk about the weather:  

    November 6, 1943: Sat. Quiet day. Dull and cold. Got light fixed up for tent. Works well.  

    But there are darker entries as well, written in a dense, tiny script:  

    October 15, 1943: Town shelled sporadically. Went to pl with rations. All near Campo Bassi. 6 pl had close ones while 2 was [indecipherable]. Town shelled again all night.

    The diary is a connection to a man and a family history that I know little about. My grandfather died when I was three years old and I have no memories of him. This is the only thing I have that was his, and I’m grateful to my mother for saving it for me.  

    On a broader level, as I witness far too many Americans choosing to support white supremacy and fascism, it’s never been more clear to me how important it is to keep remembering why our grandparents and great-grandparents sacrificed their lives during the Second World War. I’m honoured to be able to hold this piece of history in my hands, and to keep it preserved.

  • Bright Things #2: Housewarming Broom

    One of the themes of The Memory Collectors is our relationship to physical objects — the memories, emotions, and power they hold for us. Every week leading up to the book’s release, I’ll share the story of an object that’s special to me.

    From the moment I first passed by the window of the Granville Island Broom Company, I wanted one of their gorgeous handmade brooms. It seemed a frivolous purchase and out of my budget, so I always kept walking, but in the back of my mind I’d think, one day. It would be a housewarming gift to myself.

    I’ve moved 17 times as an adult, approximately every two years. All these moves were by choice: for school or jobs, for the adventure. The arrival of my daughter created a change in me. I found myself longing for a sense of place. I wanted to put down roots.

    Since my husband and I are prone to spontaneous major life choices, we started by moving cross-country to the east coast of Canada, where housing was cheap, and where I was desperately unhappy and homesick. So back to Vancouver after two years, where we eventually ended up renting the main floor of a house that made us miserable for a myriad of reasons which can mostly be categorized under “bad landlord.”

    With rental prices skyrocketing and a child settled happily in her school, we found ourselves for the first time feeling stuck. For five years we searched for a better place to live and found nothing.

    Then, a year and a half ago, we got lucky. We found a place that checked all the boxes. It’s affordable, we have long-term security, and we love our community and our neighbours. We’re going to stay here, maybe for good.

    So on a sunny spring morning, once we were mostly unpacked, my husband and I walked to Granville Island and picked out our housewarming broom. It was a splurge for sure, but it brings me such joy. Too beautiful to hide in a closet, I hung it on the wall at the entrance of our kitchen so I can see it every day, and remind myself: We are here. We are home.

  • Bright Things #1: Coffee Mug

    One of the themes of The Memory Collectors is our relationship to physical objects — the memories, emotions, and power they hold for us. Every week leading up to the book’s release, I’ll share the story of an object that’s special to me.

    This mug was handmade in Haida Gwaii and sent to me by a friend who was living there at the time. I did the math and that had to be over twenty years ago, which is, um, a bit mind-boggling. It’s been my favourite mug ever since, because 1) it’s really big, and 2) it’s got this thumb crater on top of the handle that fits just right, great for those of us who need two hands when it’s early.

    It’s my every single morning, if-it’s-dirty-I-wash-it coffee mug. To me, it signifies friendship, the kind that spans decades and long distances, and the comfort of daily rituals.