I’m the kid that collected scores of stuffed animals and named each one. I had a rock collection, a stamp collection, and to this day I have my threadbare Blanky. I still regret my decision in 3rd grade to sell my Care Bear collection in a garage sale. As I grew up, I continued to surround myself with things that were special to me, whether a postcard, a painting, or a pressed flower.
My astrological sign is Cancer—the crab with pinchers. I like my shell and, by extension, my home—it’s a reflection of who I am and the things I value. I need that space to be a place of rejuvenation or else the pinchers come out.
My senior year of high school, our house caught on fire. I didn’t lose my possessions, but the experience made me ask what was really important. Had we lost everything, what would I have wanted to save? Aside from the obvious answer, my family, there weren’t very many things that made that list—a Swedish plate my grandmother gave me for a watercolor palette, my grandma’s handwritten book of poems, my mother’s quilt.
I’ve spent a lot of energy over the years sifting through my possessions and paring them down. It’s hard to choose what isn’t making the cut; it’s much easier to decide what is.
In a tiny cabin, there will only be room for the essentials and a few of my favorite things. Here’s what is on that list:
My grandmother’s oil painting on barn wood of two bluebirds.
A wooden cup from my dad.
The antique jewelry box from my mother.
My grandma’s glass blown “Bluebird of Happiness” by Arkansas artist Leo Ward.
Against these things, the rest fades quietly in the background.