Dating and the things we collect
Hoodies, hobbies, and scars from people we no longer know
When someone enters your life they rarely do so quietly. They bring their own opinions and habits and stuff. Some of these opinions complement your own and some of these habits are a welcome, healthy change. Others not so much. When they leave they take most of these things with them, but what’s left is the indentation they previously inhabited, and probably a hoodie.
As that indentation slowly reinflates, reminders of the missing piece might sting or make you laugh or disorient you with memories of the past. Sometimes the trigger is a site or a scent and sometimes it’s a physical object you stumble upon while cleaning your house. While the influence of most people fades over time, some can have an outsized impact in relation to the amount of time you spent together or the feelings you developed. And so can the things they leave behind.
I’ve picked up a few things in my dating travels: a Bachelor habit, two astrology apps, a case for an iPhone model that isn’t made anymore, the concept of hiring a male stripper for a virtual bachelorette party, and an engraved bookmark.
Many of the less tangible acquisitions hold few traces of the people who recommended them. When I tune into the Bachelor I’m not thinking about Danielle G., who recommended the show and who I never actually met in person. Ditto to the astrology acolytes. Even the phone case, something I touch every day, rarely makes me think of the person who gave it to me.
The silver bookmark, on the other hand (did I mention it was made by hand?), is one that can’t be divorced from its creator so easily. Each time I hold it I think of the care with which it was made and the uniqueness of the gift. It was imbued with enough personal touch that I would have to hide it at the bottom of a shoe box in the back of a closet to forget about it. And that would be stupid because it’s a beautiful object.
More than the person who made it, what I’m thinking about as I run my fingers over the bookmark is what would compel someone to create something so personal for me, especially someone I was still getting to know. We went on a handful of dates and had enough in common to enjoy that time, but ultimately we didn’t connect in the way necessary to push it further. It ran its course, but something happened between us that made her want to tap into her craft and create something for me.
It serves as a reminder of the thoughtfulness and skill of someone I once spent time with, but it also reminds me that I can make people feel that way. I can inspire and be inspired and that power is not something that another person can deplete me of or attach to an object that can be cast aside the way people sometimes are.
It’s a reminder of the mystery of other people and the openness required to go on collecting. It’s something I’ll treasure from someone I hardly knew, a gift in the truest sense.