I have a shelf of collectibles and oddities obscured by dangling scarves in my room. Along with various candles, a vial of scorpion wine and a book of spells, I admit I own a self-help book or three. They can be, well, helpful. Most in my possession live in the realm of Buddhist mindfulness, but recently I added The 5 Love Languages to the collection. The book was a bit too mainstream-hetero-white-American for my taste, yet I did learn about various ways to express and communicate love. According to the quiz in the back, I speak “quality time” (add me to your schedule, bitch) yet the chapter on the love language of “receiving gifts” got me thinking. The gifts below, given in whatever form of love, have meant the most to me and make it on my secret shelf in between stones of black onyx and lithium quartz:
- Ginger Beer… I lost a lot of weight last year due to depression and digestive issues that I’m still trying to gain back. My thigh gap doesn’t expect any sympathy from you, but when your doctor wants to make sure you’ve had your AIDS test because you’re so thin, you can become pretty self-conscious. When some people get sad, they eat. When I do, I forget about food and can hardly hold it down. While I was living with my ex-boyfriend, he used to have cases of ginger beer delivered through Fresh Direct to our apartment so I could drink them to make sure I was getting sugar to gain weight, and the ginger helped my stomach feel better. It was around the same time I stopped drinking, and a bottle of Reed’s Ginger Beer is not only delicious, it is nice to sip at a party when others are enjoying alcoholic bevs. Only in retrospect that I realized just how thoughtful the supply of ginger beer was.
- An Artichoke… While I won’t turn them away, I’m not your typical cut-flowers girl. My dear friend knew this, as well that artichokes are a flower themselves and one of my favorite foods (steamed and dipped in garlic butter) when he walked to my office one day bearing an artichoke. I was so smiley over that damn veg.
- A Homemade Card… In college, one of the goofiest, sexiest motherfuckers ever made me a homemade card for Valentine’s Day. Not only was the thought of him taking the time to do some arts and crafts endearing, but so was the message inside: “Thank you for teaching me how to love again.” His last relationship had ended with great pain and lost trust in women, which took a while to build between us after what he had been through, but it was worth it. His efforts to express his appreciation brought me to tears. I need to find that card.
- Dead Flowers… You may remember the date in the cemetery I’ve written about on another list of strangest OkCupid dates. The dead flowers, plucked out of a graveyard garbage can and handed to me in front of a tombstone was as creepy and beautiful as my relationship with this person. I enjoy dead flowers better than fresh ones, perhaps because they’ve already dried up and I don’t have to watch them do so. I pressed one of the white petals between a book and kept the rest in an empty vase until my apartment started to smell like dead bodies.
- A Subway Poster… Accidental ad placement: What the hell is Venmo? I still don’t know, but I know that Lucas does yoga. I also know know one night I woke up to a subway poster hanging on my wall of an Asian man named Lucas (I have a dog that lives with my mom named Luca) in the space where I like to practice yoga in my apartment. A delightful and rambunctious boyfriend stole it for me off a subway then hung it up while I was asleep. I took it down as it got creepy eventually, but walking past Lucas staring at me everyday did the trick of reminding me to do yoga.
- A Maneki-neko… A maneki-neko is one of those welcoming Chinese cats that waves at you, meant to bring good luck and fortune. A college boyfriend got me this because I’m weird and I like cats. I also like to break things after I find out you’ve cheated on me, so I apologize to my maneki-neko that you wound up smashed and in the garbage.
- An Avocado Plant… As stated, normal flowers are “meh” and dead flowers are different, but a potted plant is a step above as (let’s get corny now) the plant can continue to grow with our love. I’ve had potted plants that were given to me die right away before, it was never a good sign. Perhaps the effort put into keeping it alive corresponds with the effort put into the relationship. I also overanalyze. Along with artichokes, I enjoy eating avocados, and the subway thief has a ginormous plant in his room that always entranced me. It turns out it was an avocado plant! All you have to do is plant the pit after you’re done eating enchiladas and eventually your room can look like a treehouse, too.
- The Dirt That Came With It… Along with the potted avocado, I was given a bag of dirt. This bag of dirt sitting next to my avocado plant is probably the most romantic thing I have in my apartment. He gave it to me reminding me that you need to change the dirt in a plant every so often so it can keep getting its nutrients and continue to grow. On that note, I’m off to water my avocado plant, buy the follow-up to The 5 Love Languages, and change my tampon.