(Marge Ely)

Deborah Hefferon

62, Washington, consultant in international education
and cross-cultural training

On my 40th birthday, which I celebrated while living in Chiang Mai, Thailand, a friend took me to the zoo. It was the zoo’s 40th birthday, too. There was something daunting about that. Not such a celebratory link as one might expect. “I’m as old as a zoo,”
I repeatedly intoned.

I also share my birthday with a pink ceramic bootie that stands on my poetry bookshelf. It’s the length of a toothpick. My mother tells me that my Great-Aunt Gertrude presented it upon my birth. Just about the size of my baptismal footprint, it held a rolled-up $20 bill, deposited into a savings account for me.

When I move overseas, we travel together — a reassuring memento of the longer journey. I wrap it in a soft sock. Like the beginning of a Russian nested doll, it then goes into a shoe. Today the bootie holds a gold safety pin, an earring back, a tiny bandage and a few sequins from an Old Delhi pillow sham. I remove these treasures to peer in at what remains: dust, age unknown.

The unglazed sole of the bootie is scuffed as though it’s been keeping pace with me through life.

Tell us about what you treasure and why: E-mail 250 words or fewer to WP Magazine. Please use “MINE” in the subject line, and include age, city and job.