“When I look at the turquoise dressing gown, I instantly think of my grandmother”

August 31st, 2017

We grow up surrounded by clothes and objects, and sometimes our families share their stories on special occasions. I spoke with four people to find out why we carry certain objects and old clothes through life, and to understand if those items bring memories, nostalgia or tension in their families.


When she was a little girl, Andreea believed that heritage was a treasure chest or a box full of jewels and gold. Or maybe a castle like you often see in the movies. With age, she learned about notaries and that heritage was actually a legacy turned into many papers to be signed and stamped.

Over time, she received things from her family which she now considers to be inheritance. These items are full of sentimental value and make her want to carry around the memories of the people she grew up with.

When I look at the turquoise dressing gown, I instantly think of my grandmother. The yellow coat reminds me of the times my grandmother would pick me up from school. Or the times when I would eat a dish called “borsch” in the living room. Britney Spears – Baby One More Time would be playing on TV, and all these memories are followed by taste, sound, the smell of old furniture. Now, my house doesn’t have that smell anymore, no matter how much I’d like it. Maybe that’s why it’s so hard for us to feel at home anywhere, because we don’t have things that hold sentimental value anymore. We buy stuff that is useful and we cycle things often.”

Andreea has green hair and she thinks that her choice of color has to do with her childhood, with the moments when she was preparing for kindergarten in her grandmother’s living room. In her spare time she wore a turquoise dressing gown, under the pretext of a princess’s coat. It had been preserved by her Russian great grandmother named Ludmila, who also used to wear the gown.

“I remember the clothes of my childhood. I remember them as being large, in a multitude of colors. Now when I see them, they seem so tiny and the colors are different from what I had imagined. The turquoise dressing gown is the only thing my memory hasn’t distorted in any way, it looks the same.”

A yellow coat made its debut in Andreea’s life during the 4th grade. All the coats that Andreea found in stores at that time were either too short or too long. She remembers that it was a time of growth spurts, and she could hardly find things to wear. The yellow coat was shortened by her grandmother. It’s still in perfect condition, as are the cord and the buttons. Andreea remembers that her mother often said she looked pale when wearing yellow and for a time she believed it. Now she says she feels good in this color and she has gotten rid of yellow phobia.

There’s also a turquoise vase she’s had since her childhood. Her grandmother got it back when she herself was 12 years old. It was 1947 when her grandmother’s parents lived in Barlad, Romania, but they used to travel a lot for work. At one point they had to receive extra money from someone, but they didn’t get any money, instead they got to choose three valuable items from inside a house. They chose two turquoise vases and one other unimportant thing. Now one the vases is in Andreea’s home, the other at her grandmother’s. She only just got hers this year, along with family stories she had not known about before.

Andreea’s heritage for future generations is Dominique, a backpack full of character, which she has endowed with a lot of affection. “If you stick him in the washing machine, he comes out like new. He does not wear out, he’s resilient in any circumstance and he has already shown me that he wants to live. When I gave him that name I felt a connection, and I cannot wait to pass on all the memories I have with him.”

Photo credit: Anastasia Nashko