Intimate connections with inanimate objects

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Josh Yee, older brother of FC alumna Jenna Yee, '11, and Features Editor Maddie Yee, '13, shares his perspective on the connections people make with inanimate objects. After owning the same black Vans for the past four years, Yee learned to appreciate the lasting memories items can trigger.
March 28, 2012

Why is it that we form connections with inanimate objects? You may say to yourself, "Well I don't do that at all," but try throwing away your favorite t-shirt or taking that pair of jeans you don't fit into anymore to the Salvation Army. Can't do it, huh?

What creates that inner reluctance, that throbbing feeling of connection that can lead even the most practical of us to keep that cherished, yet increasingly obsolete item hidden at the bottom of the dresser drawer? In order to find the answer, I took a look at my favorite inanimate objects.

Black Authentic Vans, U.S. size 10, 90 percent canvas, 10 percent rubber. In a material sense, that is all my pair of shoes can be reduced to: canvas; rubber; and a little bit of metal for the shoelace eyelets. But the essence of my shoes goes far beyond the purely physical aspects.

My shoes will turn four years old on May 15 at exactly 1:45 p.m. I remember the exact date because I had to buy a pair of black shoes for a show I was working in high school, and the only time I could buy them was right after lunch.

I waltzed into the Vans store in the mall, gazed at the seemingly endless combinations of styles, colors and materials, and half-heartedly asked the vans dude, "you have any size 10 of those black ones?" As I walked out of the store, I had no idea what kind of adventures I would have in those shoes or how many different memories I would make while wearing them.

My first memory in my new shoes was the first time I put them on. To this day, I have only tied them once (after that first double knot I have just slipped them on and off every time), and I remember them squeaking on the polished floor backstage in my futile attempt to silently work the curtains.


"So why is it that we form connections with our inanimate companions? I believe it comes down to the memories we have with them, and throwing away that object would almost be like discarding a number of memories." --Josh Yee, Guest writer

Fast-forward about a year and my shoes and I are in Mexico on a mission trip. I got the first rip in the right shoe from playing soccer with a bunch of kids outside the church where we were serving.

Later that summer, I took a picture of my Vans-clad feet with my girlfriend, since we were both wearing Vans and it was cute in a Taylor-Swift-meets-the-Notebook kind of way.

I went to Mexico again in 2011, and received a stain on the left shoe that is from the extra-oily hot sauce I spilled while trying to devour my third taco on a late-night run.

Rip number two in the right shoe happened in South Africa while I was playing touch rugby, and similar rips on the left shoe are the remnants of a capture-the-flag game during my 2011 summer spent at Hume Lake Christian Camps.
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Although his younger sisters have spent their high school years at FC, Josh attended University High School, '09, and then went through the year-long Joshua Wilderness Institute program at Hume Lake Christian Camps. Yee currently attends University of California, Irvine.

The rubber on the right side is severely worn down in one spot from the time I crashed my bike on my way to class, and you can see my black Vans socks peeking through a small hole on the left shoe I created while evading a snowball.

My shoes have been ripped, torn, burned, soaked, stained and cut, and I have subsequently sewn, glued, stapled and washed them in an effort to keep them on my feet.

There are rips in the top of both shoes, and I can't wear them outside when it rains because the holes in the bottoms make even sandals a more practical choice.

I have told myself numerous times to just throw them out and buy a new pair of exactly the same shoes, but every time I go to toss them I always seem to convince myself to wear them for just a few more weeks.

Even though I have, since, bought four or five new pairs of Vans, that first pair will always be my favorite; I have never bought a new pair of black Authentic Vans.

So why is it that we form connections with our inanimate companions? I believe it comes down to the memories we have with them, and throwing away that object would almost be like discarding a number of memories.

As the four-year anniversary of my Vans approaches, it makes me sad to think that this might be the year that I retire them. Well ... maybe just one more year.

For more columns, read the March 16 article, Blacktop ballers to back-to-back champs.






Great article!

Posted by "Chris Grossman" on March 30, 2012 at 0:02 a.m.

Wow, I could not agree more. I could never leave my Nikes, and dread the day when I finally grow out of them.


Nice article

Posted by "Laura Casuga" on March 28, 2012 at 0:02 a.m.

I really enjoyed this article. I have more than a few inanimate objects of which I am inordinately fond, so I get it. Nicely done.


Great article!

Posted by "Sarah Lim" on March 28, 2012 at 0:02 a.m.

I really loved really this article! "Taylor Swift meets the Notebook" hahaha priceless!


Loved this article!

Posted by "Debbie Fries" on March 28, 2012 at 0:02 a.m.

This was a really fun article to read, and I am so glad to see The Feather allow guest writers! I too have many items I am unwilling to part with, a lot of them are cards my kids made before they were brilliant spellers! I hope to read more articles by guests in the future. Thanks Feather staff!


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