Totems for Travel

Souvenirs This little jar once contained onion jam. My mother bought it for me on our last day in Berlin. There was once a glass lid. But it broke the first day I opened the jam, smashing on my kitchen floor in the Midwest.

The jam was sweet, maple-y, and dark. I ate it off the end of a teaspoon and later with my fingers. Jam gone—I kept the jar to use as a painting cup and to remind me of the heavy buckets of tulips and the first fat birds of Berlin’s spring.

I recently moved. I donated: many books, a vacuum cleaner, a table, my bed, spoons, and sundresses. I threw away: shoes with broken heels and ends of ribbon. The jar was in the pile to go. At the last minute, I wrapped it in a pair of socks and took it with me.

Is this a sign of the hoarding that runs in my family? Perhaps. Will it break soon? Perhaps. But, I am glad to have carried it so far.



5 comments on “Totems for Travel

  1. Good to see you on the blogosphere again, Rowan. I’m going through a similar metamorphosis (preparing to move, giving stuff away), and know what you mean about taking keepsakes along with me. Onion jam sounds interesting. Sweet or savoury?

    • Somewhere in between: kind of like chutney if you’ve ever hand that. Or like caramelized onions.

      Where are you moving to?

      • Somewhere new in downtown Toronto, though I would love to give Eastern Europe a try someday.

        Have you heard of the Minimalist Movement? It’s been helpful in getting me organized and ready for moving.

      • I have heard of them… though mostly this results in me throwing random things away with my eyes closed and then spending the next month worrying that I lost something important x_X. Oh well, at least I can be minimalist on the nice clean internet.

  2. Maybe if you got a healing totem, the jar would have a lid again. Or an air totem and you would have increased magic powers.

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