imageI was semi-engaged once. I say semi because we never had a legitimate ring or a party to announce it. We used my late grandmother’s dress ring and it turned my finger green. That should have been an omen in and of itself. I decided that my wedding would be alternative, with lots of handmade touches and second-hand items turned chic. I decided as so many brides-to-be do to feature blue prominently and my bouquet would be made of buttons not flowers (this doesn’t look as kitsch as you think). Each bridesmaid, family member or friend would choose some blue or white buttons and I would fashion them into a bouquet using my best straight-from-Pinterest DIY skills. Above are two buttons one designated bridesmaid gave me. The designs are etched into some sort of shell material.

After the relationship disintegrated, I kept the buttons in an old teal lockable make-up case along with some of my late grandmother’s things and other painful or precious items. Somehow they have migrated from there to a pen organiser beside my desk. Today I found them and cleaned them up a bit. They don’t arouse bitterness or pain in me now and they are the most gorgeous shade of blue.

We also received an expensive Japanese bowl set from one of my friends and once after a fight I was cleaning and dropped some of them, sending triangles of bowl all over the kitchen. If believed in omens that would have been the rooster’s second crow. We also had an orchid that we decided was a symbol of our love (yes, I was that ridiculous. Oh to be young and blindly infatuated). We got it at a seaside market and always laughed at the fact that it wouldn’t grow, despite being re-potted and fertilized and what have you. The rooster’s third crow?

After the relationship ended, and I was alone in my moldy one bedroom apartment during a particularly rainy May, painfully broke and slowly losing myself to depression, I looked out of the window and saw that the orchid was had a single shoot growing up through the cream-white bulb. I laughed.

I wish I could say that this was the time of a great epiphany. That this was the moment that I pulled myself together, became strong and fought against my madness to emerge victorious and build my life anew. But it wasn’t. I continued to fade into the shadows of myself until I was admitted to hospital.

When I moved house I threw out the ring, the orchid, and the remaining bowls but I could never bring myself to throw out the buttons. They were too pretty. I could never use them either. Because despite not believing in omens, I still associate those buttons with that man, not in a negative way, just as a memory. Who wants to carry around the ghost of their ex-lover in their pocket? Or sew their memory to your favorite shirt. Forgive me, but that’s like recycling a wedding ring. A bit creepy.

What do you think, my lovely chums? Have you ever recycled any of your ex-lover’s possessions?


6 thoughts on “Buttons

  1. It was nice to hear that you had a trinkets box to keep the buttons, ring and other gems in. I will admit that I keep a box just like it (but for my current lover). I still have love letters from a boy I knew as a child, but have kept nothing from my ‘grown-up’ failed relationships. I generally wait about a month or two (just in case), then throw everything into the bin on collection day. The only exception is a gold necklace from a past boyfriend which I did sell.
    The buttons definitely are worth keeping as they are beautiful. Perhaps you could make something with them and other memory items; to show where you have been…

    1. Hi Jenni,

      Thanks for your comment. 🙂 I kept a lot of things from my late grandmother but not so much from past lovers (other than those buttons). I tend to return or throw out my ex-lovers things straight away as part of the healing process. Great suggestion about making something with the memorable items. I think I could do it with my late grandmother’s things but not with the buttons. I just can’t bring myself to do it. I think I’ll still keep them though, I just love the pattern on them.

  2. This is lovely. You have such a beautiful voice in your writing.
    I tried to think of recycled items of old loves. There was a shirt of wore out from a man I was also “semi engaged” to. He died and so I kept this things for a long time then gradually everything was worn out or given away. I haven’t kept anything else from anyone else. My husband buys and sells jewelry – so many engagement rings and necklaces – but the good thing is that happy couples come in and make the rings shine again. Thanks again for a wonderful post.

    1. Thanks for the comment Juliette. It’s sad that people trade these things in but the money they get from the rings is sure (I hope) to go towards funding a new life, which is a nice thought. I’m not sure I’d buy a second hand engagement ring (I don’t plan on getting married so not really an issue). For the people that do I can see how it would be a great way for those that maybe can’t afford a new one to get something really nice for a decent price. I would however buy an antique, which I guess is the same thing, so it depends on the circumstance.

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