About a year and a half ago, I moved cross-country, only bringing with me what I could fit in half of my car (the other half was reserved for my road trip companion, but that’s a story for another time). It was difficult leaving behind things that were meaningful to me, so I compromised with myself and decided to bring a small collection of things smaller than my palm as tokens to remind me of what I was leaving behind. This series will be about those tokens.
I’ve always pined over pretty things. As a six or seven-year-old, they helped me launch into elaborate sessions of playing pretend. I had a brown purse from a garage sale that looked like a treasure box, and in it, I kept a drawstring bag of plastic jewels; elaborate beaded necklaces I’d found with my mom at estate sales; a little brass teapot and matching, little brass goblet, among other knick knacks. Combined with a good cape, they could keep my imagination going for hours.
I got this little green bottle for Christmas from my favorite, most fabulous aunt, and it instantly had a special place in my treasure box. It contained healing potions and poisons, antidotes and draughts of anything I needed. It was forged by fairies, or smuggled by a thief. It shaped the stories I lived, and made everything just a little bit more magical.
I always feel this tug to play pretend when I find myself able to buy things that little me would have sold her hair to play with. I miss being able to build new realities so easily, like slipping in and out of a favorite dress. This bottle is a token that reminds me of that version of myself—the Kelsey who lived a thousand lives.
Now, the little green bottle sits on one of my shelves, next to a matryoshka doll and a print of “Fair at Valencia.” Its newest neighbor is an empty mini bottle of Patrón, because to this day, I can’t pass up a bottle that looks a little bit magical. I decided to keep the bottle as a nod to my past self, but it’s also more than that: it’s a small gesture of hope that the magic isn’t gone, after all.