I am a collector …. a collector of memories … I used to write diaries, but could never sustain the habit …and this continues to this day, when I can blog daily for a short period then nothing for months.

I used to collect shells and pebbles, to remind myself how much I love the beach, until my mother discovered to her horror that she had to pay for extra luggage weight when I tried to bring some to my college dorm, then she discovered the bottom drawers of my chest was full of stones … To this day I keep that compulsion in another form, beadwork.

Then I got a camera, just a cheap one, and hung around photographers. Pretty soon my photo albums were competing for space in shelves with my music, movie, and comic collection. I hold on to them because they are part of my life — times with family and friends, places visited, travels and adventures. But I didn’t have much when I traveled and lived in the US — first time I learned how heavy paper can be. So I collected refrigerator magnets, one for each city or state I visited. When we got a little prosperous my husband and I thought it would be neat to instead buy a painting by a street or relatively unknown artist in some of the places we visited, and New Orleans was the first.

Thank God for digital photography! Now I have a collection of external hard drives and CDs and DVDs. I also began collecting handicrafts and souvenirs. The ones I value the most are those from Thailand, Pakistan, and Nigeria because of the years we spent there. Following the suggestion of a colleague, we took a few with us when we moved to our new homes. But we can’t always bring everything with us, especially when we were discouraged from shipping to Nigeria. So here I am posting photos of how our current and previous homes look mainly to remind myself … plus to not buy any more framed items. My husband joked we will run out of walls if we move back to the States and combine everything we acquired.

You see, I’m not really a collector — I am just trying to preserve my memories …  of the history, the culture, artistry, natural beauty of the places we briefly called “home.” We lead such transient lives and here are our transient homes, preserved so I can look back in time, when I had a lovely view of the garden and two birdbaths from my work space in Islamabad … or how our living room in Lagos kept changing whenever I bought more masks, wood carvings, and handwoven fabrics.

We lived in a 2-bedroom flat in Lagos

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We lived in a two-story, 3-bedroom house with front and back lawns, and front and side balconies in Islamabad

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