Silver Lady by Gabrielle Nicoletti

In celebration of our Trash issue (out now!), we bring you this story by Gabrielle Nicoletti; a love-letter to trinkets, and a potent reminder that one person's trash is another's treasure.

Illustration by  Krista Gibbard

Illustration by Krista Gibbard

For the longest I can remember, I’ve had enthusiasm for things. My college boyfriend was overwhelmed by my trinkets, and loved reminding me that I had too much shit. Perhaps it was, when on vacation, my asking him “how many rocks do you think will fit in my carry-on?” that did him in. 

On the other hand, my friends always knew to gift me little boxes, animal statues, and random tokens from their travels. They even named my future oddities shop: Gigi’s Tchotchkes. My sister granted me the forever nickname: Silver Lady. She said she imagined the 'future me' with long silver hair, bangle-filled arms, sifting through piles at flea markets... showing up to family gatherings in my wooden clogs, handing out strange gifts from around the world.

I am not a shopaholic or a hoarder, I assure you. In fact, I watch the show “Hoarders” and pity the people who can’t get rid of completely useless items.

When I decided to move out of NYC last summer, my mom not-so-subtly told me it was the perfect time to “finally get rid of my random crap.” Easy, I thought. Maybe I’d even become a one of those trendy minimalists.

I held my antique silver piggy bank in my hand. I had seen him at an antique shop I visited with my dad when I was 15. He was broken, so music no longer played when you twisted the key on his back. “It’s junk, you don’t need that” my dad had advised. But that week, I couldn't get the sweet, discarded pig out of my head. The next Saturday I traveled two hours by train to buy him with my babysitting money. 

Flash-forward to me sitting in my shoebox Manhattan bedroom, where I had now justified keeping my sock-monkey, a porcelain panda-shaped box, and a pile of faded geodes that sat on the window sill. I was mentally drained. Shit, maybe I was a hoarder. I suddenly empathized with them. 

My mom always reminded me that we had absolutely no family heirlooms. We were poor farmers from Italy—I shouldn’t get my hopes up about some family ring presenting itself to my future partner. She, herself, had collected Pez dispensers and stamps in the 60’s, but nonchalantly chucked them when they started taking up space in our perfectly organized suburban home. As a child, she pulled away favourite blankets before I could even think of saying “blankey.” 

It hadn’t been until this year when forced to sift through my things that I realized trash wasn’t just treasure to me, it was (and is) my desperate attempt to create a story... for fear that I will leave nothing behind. My desire to find and keep things is a desire to one day have my own "trash" found by another Silver Lady. And there will always be a Silver Lady.

So, I stuffed everything into boxes without further thought, paid the extra baggage fees, and landed in Vancouver with my beloved trash.