In 2006, my grandmother handed me a bag of pine cones she had collected over years of vacationing out West. Until February of 2013 they sat in a cupboard in my house, a small 1950s prefab with three bedrooms. One of the bedrooms was our office and another acted as a study, but with a baby on the way, it needed to be cleaned out to make space for our soon-to-be born son.
It was during this cleaning that I rediscovered the pine cones.
In and of themselves they are nothing special—simply decades old pine cones from all over America’s West. The locations having been lost in my grandmother's memory. I'm left to conjure up memories for her. Was this one from Yellowstone? This one must be from Yosemite. This cone must be from a roadside park near the Black Hills. She must have found it while my mother took her dog for a quick walk. This one probably came from Washington as they were their way to Seattle. And so, I came up with an entire mythical trip out West from what I imagined her doing.
In short, I became nostalgic over something that never happened and that I could never verify. But over the course of the next couple months, these objects became special. They were, in fact, souvenirs from a trip I could never take and yet, I had collected every last one of them. Having no photos of this trip, only the souvenirs, I decided to photograph those instead.