Another school year is coming to an end. As we begin to pack up our living quarters, it is time to decide what we discard, what we donate, and what we keep with us.

Students will begin the yearly undertaking of emptying dresser drawers, folding up fitted sheets, stowing trinkets, and clearing decorations off walls.

Around our rooms are souvenirs from our travels. The stories behind them may not cross our minds everyday, but these items remain for various reasons. Where did you get that art print? Why did those movie ticket stubs get hung up on the wall instead of ending up in the trash? What’s the story behind the good-luck charm that you keep on your desk?

I have a little cloth bag that lives beneath my pillow. Inside are a few charms and crystals that have stayed with me along the way: a tiny glass bee, a metal winged pig in mid-flight, a coin embossed with a fairy, and a few crystals from my closest friend.

I can’t even remember exactly where some of these came from, but they remind me of the more peaceful moments from the past few years of my life. My college journey has been fractured and difficult, but the things in this bag bring me hope and comfort when I’m in need.

Maybe your treasures bring you strength on difficult days, or they might remind you of memories you don’t want to fade away. Whatever the reason, these mementos serve as windows into our minds and our stories.

What stories do you keep around your room?

Hospital bracelet

Melis Peker

(She/Her), molecular, cell, and developmental biology major, second-year

“I went to see an indie show featuring the bands Pool Kids, Joyce Manor, and Pup. I was in the pit when Joyce Manor was playing, then all of a sudden got elbowed right in the face, exactly an hour in. I realized my nose was broken when I was bleeding pools of blood. I went to the ER, where I got the hospital bracelet, and spent about 3 hours waiting to get stitches.”

Movie tickets

Yasmin Rahimi

(She/Her), film & digital media major, fourth-year

“Every Tuesday, seven [of us] trek down to the Santa Cruz Cinema to watch a film. It could be something we’ve been anticipating or something that none of us are interested in, just something to bond over at 9 p.m. at night every Tuesday. On Tuesday night, we all were eager to watch the Super Mario Bros. film when we entered the cinema, our tickets already bought by our friend Kate. We sat in the black leather recliner chair anticipating for the black screen to turn on; we arrived late [but] expected it to be starting.”

Yasmin told me the movie never started, and they eventually sent their friend Amy to demand a refund and a refill on a blue Icee a member of their group had finished during the 45 minute wait. 

“They complied with the Icee but were reluctant to refund the tickets, so Amy pushed harder, we got five tickets back, and to this day we still have those five tickets and we still haven’t watched Super Mario Bros.

Class ring from grandparents

Brooklynn Baker

(She/They/Him), psychology major/theater minor, third-year

“This silver ring was a gift from my mom and grandparents at the beginning of my college career. It’s my high school class ring and it’s probably one of the last things from home I have.”

Custom camera strap

Jean-Pierre Pitre

(He/Him), film & digital media major, third-year

“I received a custom-made camera strap in reference to a current sci-fi film project my film club is working on called ‘The Ripple.’ I got it from a good friend as a birthday present.” 

Jean-Pierre told me about a promise he made to himself about pursuing his filmmaking dreams when he arrived in Santa Cruz as a transfer student, and how joining MMS (Movie Magic Studies) was part of fulfilling that goal. He said he was still anxious about how people in the organization perceived him until his birthday, when he had a revelation. 

“It genuinely felt like I had people who appreciated me for who I am. The camera strap I received from one of my MMS friends serves as a reminder of the revelation I had that day. It reminds me that I matter, that what I do has an impact on people. It reminds me to keep pursuing my dream as a filmmaker because I have people who believe in me as much as I want to believe in myself.”

Wooden frog

Henry Thomas

(He/Him), politics major, second-year

“My friend Gavin loved to collect frog statues. The weirder they were, the better. He had a shelf with about 20 of them stacked side by side. He was a really caring person and always wanted to help others. He was one of the strongest people I knew. By the age of 19, he had already survived cancer. I know he wanted to become a therapist and help other people through their struggles, both physical and emotional.”

Henry told me about a time Gavin had pranked him by putting ghost pepper sauce in his bowl of chicken soup.

“That’s who Gavin was; he was a massive troll with a huge heart. When he passed away last year, I was heartbroken. I wrote him a letter much like this one and pinned it on a memorial wall at his funeral. Just as I was walking back to my seat, his step mom announced that the family wanted his friends to adopt a frog from his collection. So when I see this frog on my desk everyday, it reminds me to treat myself and others with respect, but don’t forget to have fun along the way.”