For most people, college is one of those experiences that you can look back on years later and remember some of the strange things you did that, at the time, seemed completely normal. It’s a time of transition and growing, of new friendships and adventures.
Ellen Yee has moved around quite a bit, from her home in Minnesota to college at Yale, to California and finally to Iowa. She’s not one to hold on to old possessions from year to year if they don’t provide any use to her; she prefers organized simplicity. But the one item that has stayed with her all this time is one that rests, unused, in her garage.
It’s a small, secondhand toboggan. Yee found it with her best friend Kimmy in college “when we basically scrounged around on corners to pick up furniture that was discarded to be the furniture in our dorm room.”
She laughs as she tells the story, remembering how they acquired so much of their furniture at the time.
“We saw this sled and thought, ‘Oh, that’s cool!’ But, you know, it didn’t seem particularly useful to us at the time, and we thought, ‘Well, we need a coffee table.’ So we had this black, spray-painted sled that we mounted on gray cinderblocks, and that was our coffee table,” Yee said.
A statement piece for sure, the old-fashioned sled provided the flat surface they needed to hold their coffee cups, and at the time it seemed really cool, but it’s jutting pieces and odd shape didn’t make it the most convenient piece of furniture for the middle of the room.
“I remember running into it a lot because it has all these things sticking out of it,” Yee said, laughing at the thought.
More than two decades later, Yee has kept the toboggan-turned-coffee table with her, but she hasn’t really thought about what she’s going to do with it — other than she knows she’s going to keep it.
“I haven’t used it since, for anything, so I must be sentimentally attached to it,” she said, adding that when she sees the sled now, she thinks of Kimmy, who lives in Maine but remains her best friend. It also serves as a reminder of that time in her life when she realized how little one really needs.