Ode to the Free Box


Free stuff. Who doesn’t love it? 

Just off the main drag of Telluride, their is a wooden structure filled with books, clothes, and house hold items labeled “The Free Box.”  

“So why a free box?” you might ask. 


“So Telluride residents and workers can recycle usable clothing and household items.” Simple rules apply, “Please take only what you or your family will use.”

Locals and travels scrounge through the pickings in hopes to find something good to take home. Finding a colorful plate that will add pop of color in the kitchen or a graphic t-shirt they would be proud to rep is like finding a diamond in the rough. 

In the past year I started to pay more attention to the things I own. I paid attention to how much I wore the clothes that overflow in my closet, the pieces scattered on my walls, and the emotions evoked by the eclectic version of Feng Shui we created in our college home.   Our home became a sacred place filled with mismatched furniture pieces donated from a variety of sources. My two favorites pieces were a deceivingly normal looking chest that served as our TV stand and a white cloth bubble chair with vibrant stitching that sat upon a wooden frame. 

That deceivingly normal chest was the source to many late night dance parties. The middle panels slid open and out rolled a retro looking media console. Turn table, aux cord, radio, tape and CD player were all there at our service to send tunes through the two wicker sides that hid booming speakers. 

The bubble chair was nestled in the corner of my room and caught the light that poured in my windows every morning. It was the first thing I saw groggy in the morning as I rolled out of bed. Little bits of cotton bursted through the seams in the corner, hanging over the wooden frame. It was a safe haven for roommates to come in and share stories. It was my spot to perch up in and detox at the end of a long day. 

Over the past year these items became a source of simple joy in my life. But they were someone else’s long before they were mine. Others left these items in their personal “Free Box” and I was the lucky finder.

The chest was left behind in the college house and we have not been able to trace back the lineage of the beast to the original source. The bubble chair was a gift from an acquaintance in college. She dropped it off just before she rolled away to start adulthood and I embarked on my senior year.

The stories of these pieces were a mystery to me but I felt the story in their presence. Each had a biography pieced together by its owners that could not be read but felt.

At the end of my senior year I parted ways with my beloved musical chest and bubble chair not because I wanted to. I had a big girl moment when I realized I needed to create my own Free Box and pass along some of my things to the next home. It was time to let someone else pick up where I let off in the biography of the chest and chair.

These pieces brought to me simple joy and it was time to pass that joy along. You may not be able to buy love but you sure can give it away. 

To a purposeful adventure,


Katie O'Connel