This shell is my first kiss, currently hidden in a storage crate next to a North London motorway. I miss him - the object, not the man. Since moving to Berlin and storing most of my possessions, I often find myself daydreaming about my glass jar of miscellaneous door keys, my grandmother’s watercolour paints, even the red suede stilettos I wore just once, to leave someone I cared about deeply (fittingly, they made my toes bleed).
These objects are ghosts in my life, an autobiography written in things. “Memory is the seamstress, and a capricious one at that,” as Virginia Woolf writes in Orlando. “Thus, the most ordinary movement in the world, such as sitting down at a table and pulling the inkstand towards one, may agitate a thousand odd, disconnected fragments.”
This week I’ve written an essay defending physical objects in an increasingly digital world, for an ace new literary start up called The Pigeonhole. As digital innovators, The Pigeonhole seemed the perfect place for me to explore the rise of minimalism and global digital living at the expense of tactile memory-prompts and experiences.
What are we losing as our libraries melt to PDFs? As the same quick button-touch is used to access emails from our accountant and our most intimate photograph albums? How is this changing our experience of grief, even of love? Sign up to The Pigeonhole here to get two essays for free, and read about the memory held inside objects: