July 10, 2008
Objects and Feeling at Home
My office is beginning to feel like my home-away-from-home now that I have unpacked my coffee cups. I have this unique collection of coffee cups that goes back to the early 1970s. Each cup tells a story and evokes memories. I thinned out the collection a bit before I left Minnesota, but I brought most of them with me. (There are several more out of view on the right of the photo.) And I was able to find a good spot for my Amado PeÃ±a tile -- I like his work very much (he has Austin roots -- used to teach art at Austin High before he got famous and moved to Taos and Santa Fe.)
Briefly, here are the stories of the cups in the front row (L to R):
Black Forest Inn, Minneapolis - a wonderful German restaurant / beer garden with an outdoor patio - I've enjoyed a number of meals and happy hours here with friends.
A cobalt blue cup with gold writing: "President Bill Clinton - A Cure for the Blues" (with him playing the sax). I picked this up at National Airport when he was running for election. With all the bad economic news that seems to worsen by the day, we sure need a cure for the blues! How about it, Bill? I have an extra one - maybe I should put it on EBay?
The Arctic Cathedral; TromsÃ¸, Norway. I've been to TromsÃ¸ twice -- once to present at a conference and once to do some teaching about adolescent development. It's the northernmost university in the world. One visit was during May, not too long before the summer solstice. It was light almost 24 hrs / day, and people were out all night long, soaking up every bit of daylight possible. My friend Jane has an amazing hutte (summer cottage) that is glass all-round with a thatched roof.
St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. Within a short time of arriving in the Twin Cities in 1990, I heard my first live SPCO concert and was smitten. We had season tickets most years and thoroughly enjoyed the wonderful music and the intimate group that seemed to have a real personality.
Star Ship Enterprise -- I picked this up when Mark and I attended a Star Trek Convention in Minneapolis when he was a teenager. It was a very special day, even though we weren't dressed as Captain Kirk or Spock. (Many other folks were...)
Sundance -- A memory of numerous trips to Sundance, some for professional conferences and some for fun.
As I look at each of these objects placed in my new surroundings, all the wonderful memories flood back and keep me centered.
In Vol 8 (1) issue of Identity: An International Journal of Theory and Research (2008), Jane Kroger has a fascinating article that fits well: "Symbolic meanings of valued personal objects in identity transitions of late adulthood." She and her colleague interviewed 20 folks age 65 - 89 who were in residential facilities in New Zealand, and they all talked with her about various personal objects they had in their living units -- some of which would have made little sense to an outsider, but made perfect sense to them. I saw how important such objects were during my father's last two years, especially when he was in assisted living. My sister lovingly gathered photo albums, CDs of his favorite big band music, and plaques and awards from his career and arranged them so they would be easily visible every day. They talked through the picture albums numerous times. Even if he couldn't remember whether he had eaten dinner, he could name all his buddies from high school and the Navy.