Are you a collector or a curator?
A friend asked me this the other day — and it made me laugh. The former seems to err on the side of more is more, with the latter in direct contrast. “Can I be a hybrid?” I asked, refusing to pick sides. The truth is though — I’ve always been more of a collector. When I find something I love, I lean into it hard — a trait I have my mother to thank for (and perhaps too many shoes to show for, but that’s beside the point). Of course, living in New York forces me to curate my collections meticulously and often, unless I want to overcrowd our already small apartment even further.
Thankfully, this is where my little obsessions come into play, like matchbooks. I just find them so delightful! Every time I visit a new restaurant, bar or store that keeps matchbooks at their front desk, I sneak two or three into my bag, to add to my growing collection at home, where they reside in an old glass cake stand on my bar cart. There they sit, precariously stacked on top of each other — a colorful mess of small illustrated boxes, akin perhaps to shrunken books, each one bearing a different but tangible memory for me. Memories of beloved New York institutions, of first dates, of last dates, of long weekends in Rome and Paris, of old friends, of new friends, of dusty book stores from summer road trips years ago, of places I desperately want to visit again and sadly, of places that have since closed their doors permanently. I suppose you could say, it’s my memory jar. A way of revisiting places, cities, people and feelings every time I light a candle (which is to say, often) — a literal and figurative way of keeping the light on for things dear to my heart.
As I was lighting a candle the other day, it dawned on me that matchbooks may eventually go by the wayside at some point — arguably a relic of a time when smoking was much more commonplace, but until that day comes, I’ll happily collect them to my heart’s content.
So tell me, do you consider yourself a collector or a curator? Or both?