2018, as told through the things that made me, changed me, stayed with me.
I remember moments best through objects—or emblems, I should say, to give them more credibility than just being things. (Whether that serves as commentary on my hedonistic tendencies or reflects millennial consumerism is a topic for another day). All I do know is that these objets have always punctuated the milestones in my life; illuminated as landmarks that lend both familiarity and tangibility, without which I’d be left sans context or direction.
I began 2018 inexplicably drawn to the color pink. If you know me in real life, this would be as out-of-character as suddenly announcing an interest in baseball or, I don’t know, video games. It’s a specific shade, too: not millennial pink, not blush, but a bright, azalea I felt compelled to surround myself with.
And what could be more intentional than buying a new bullet journal in that very color? How serendipitous that Leuchtturm’s “New Pink” was physical manifestation of the exact pink I saw in my head? Every day I opened and closed this journal; saw it deskside or within my bag, always—and yet I never grew tired of it. Instead, there was a sense of urgency for more. Azalea brightened. It inspired. By a stroke of auspicious timing, I came to acquire the most beautiful magenta writing folder and diary from Smythson’s Mara collection… and I started writing again.
Never disclosed was how owning such special pieces would lead to a search for stationery that would be worthy of such elegance. I’m loyal to my Leuchtturm 1917 hard-bound notebooks (dotted, A5), but this affliction led me to Clairefontaine notebooks, whose pages are a dream to write in. The paper is simply incomparable. Delicious. Divine.
And as I write, my perfume would infuse with the paper. Some mix of Persian Garden and Philosykos—a green yet milky fig and Egyptian musk blend of my own concoction—would trail across the bottom half of each page. Scent memory, they say, is potent; is this the fragrance people will come to think of as me?
Or will they remember me as the girl who loved a beautiful handbag? I’ve always harbored a predilection for them, but this was the year I came to own dream pieces I never thought possible. Hard work was involved, of course, and coupled with fortuitous timing (ah, a resounding theme of the year), stumbled upon two vintage finds of the century. These became the indulgent, decadent celebrations of a year I both hated and loved. (But also because I’m a firm believer that your things deserve a beautiful home.)
Bags are a flag, a symbol of who we are. Why that bag? What secrets does she hold?
In mine, always a pen and a book. 2018 was the year I read again. Purchased books, mostly secondhand, with fervor, feverishly. A Place for Us enraptured me; it was the best novel I read in years. Crazy Rich Asians (the book, but also the film) affected me in more ways than I can articulate. I devoured those and more towards the last half the year, not coincidentally post-LASIK. Both the procedure and recovery process were incredibly difficult for me—and though I hesitate recommending it, I’d be remiss not to remind myself of the positives.
It changed how I saw. Literally. After surgery, I remember counting down the days before I could start using GrandeLash MD again; I missed long lashes. I missed looking “feminine,” (lashes being one of many defining characteristics reinforced by pop culture)—and worse, ashamed for wanting those things despite knowing it was all farce. I had long outgrown my dependency on makeup to feel presentable but never realized just how much I was still attached to mascara. How the weight of the world seemed to sit on one step, one product’s shoulders.
Two weeks without eye makeup was what was recommended. Yet I went one month without—in part out of paranoia (my eyes were bloodied and bruised for much longer than the average) but also as a conscious effort to shift my own worldview on a thing as small (but significant) as equating lengthy lashes to desirability. In those 30-odd days, I relearned my face as it was; I didn’t even think of it as “devoid of” something. My face just is.
Eyes are the windows to the soul, after all. I was a whole new woman.
Well, perhaps not entirely shiny and new. Just the same old me with new eyes, new epiphanies, and a few new, nice things, heading into the new year.
. . .