How objects close to our hearts are reflective of our identities

Intersectionality, sentimentality and Yankees caps


For as long as I can remember, my father has worn a Yankees cap — around the house, during bouts of yard work, whenever he’s out-and-about in the real world. Wherever he goes, the baseball cap goes too. It’s a strange dynamic, but that baseball cap is inarguably an extension of his identity. The real kicker? My father has never once watched a baseball game. He doesn’t know any statistics and doesn’t keep up with any players. Football? Sure. Hockey? Constantly. Baseball? Never.

That begs the question — if he doesn’t like baseball, then why the Yankees cap? Solidarity. When my grandfather died, my father picked up his Yankees cap and, 14 years later, he has yet to set it back down.

My grandfather was born and bred in New York City. He used to tell stories about him and his brother riding the subway to see the Bronx Bombers — another name for the Yankees — in action when they were only five years old. All his life, my grandfather was an avid supporter of the team — even when he eventually left the city. When he died, my father adopted the baseball cap in a display of blatant support, in an effort to keep his spirit alive. A very beautiful thing.

Even though that choice was a very long time ago, it is still relevant. My father still wears the Yankees cap everywhere, of course. But, in the time that has passed, it has become more than a discrete memorial. It has become integral to his identity. It is a representation of his character, that being of devotion, loyalty and continued solidarity. It is an extension of who he is — a snapshot of his life. Nowadays, I’ll admit that the baseball cap serves a dual-purpose as a symbol of remembrance and a sly way to hide his receding hairline.

To me, a Yankees cap will always be a symbol of loyalty. Always.

For those of you wondering, I even have my own Yankees cap. No, I don’t wear it as avidly as my father does. No, I am not up-to-date on the team’s actual games or win streaks — if there even are any. None of that is important to me. I love wearing the Yankees cap. I love how I feel when I wear it — safe, comforted and a part of something bigger than myself.

Still, what is my point? Glad you asked.

Throughout my college career, I have learned the ins-and-outs of intersectionality. No doubt, most students have heard the heralds. But, for those of us that live under rocks, intersectionality refers to all of the unique aspects that influence a person’s identity — religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation and so on. Everyone has a distinct and intricate identity, which makes diversity so very important.

However, I would argue that our identities are comprised of objects too — things we have grown-up with, things that have shaped us, things that remind us of home. I adamantly believe that these objects are itty-bitty pieces of our identities.

Interestingly enough, this concept is counterintuitive to our current societal trends. We are told that objects do not define our character nor enhance our propensity for happiness. As someone enrolled in two different “Science of Happiness” classes, I can confirm this. A private jet will not create or enhance happiness.

On a similar note, however, I would argue that there are two classifications of objects — material ones and sentimental ones. Material objects are the ones to be wary of — these are unnecessary and extravagant expenditures, like private jets. Sentimental objects are the ones that are close to our heart, representative of ourselves, reminders of who we are. These are the objects that fill us with happiness and comfort because they remind us of what is really important. Sentimental objects are so diverse — anything from traditional ones, like photo albums, to not-so-traditional ones, like Yankees caps.

At low points, I find it helpful to find these sentimental objects. I’ll wear my Yankees cap when I leave the dorm. I’ll wrap myself in the quilt my mother made for me. I’ll read my favorite book — J.D. Salinger’s “The Catcher in the Rye” — and write notes in the pages’ margins. It doesn’t seem to matter how many times I read that text — I always have new thoughts and reactions.

These actions remind me of what’s important. These actions remind me of my roots. This may just be one girl’s opinion, but these sentimental objects are key to our happiness. The more we surround ourselves with these objects close to our hearts, the happier we are.

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