Memories evoke emotion. Happiness, sadness, fear, love. The whole spectrum. And what is it that triggers memories? Sights, sounds, and especially scents.
Travelling is an opportunity to make many memories. How can we preserve them to refer back to in the future? There are some things that get seared into your brain and you will never forget. We all have something like that. One of mine is sitting with a man in Turkey who was proud to call the pile of rocks surrounding us his home. Gave me new insight about my home and I will never forget the faces and the rocks and the aroma of the fire burning with dinner cooking on it. The idea of it all…
Other things are preserved through pictures. Photos we take. Notes we write along the way. Somewhere in my house there is a journal detailing a trip made to Germany in 1974. My first major international excursion.
And then there are things that we bring home. Souvenirs. Everyone has their own idea as to what will be a good reminder. I try to find something that represents the place and the people living there. On a recent trip through the American Southwest I collected several pieces of Navajo and Zuni jewelry. That’s me. Other people like keychains, postcards, t-shirts or books. All fine.
So in travelling to New York City, what souvenir would I find? Well, I ate a pastrami sandwich at a deli. But I couldn’t bring it back with me. I took lots of pictures. One day I’ll actually go back and look at them. I seared a lot of images into my brain. The people and lights and buildings. The Chrysler Building, Rockefeller Center and the Empire State Building are all gorgeous. But they don’t fit in a suitcase. I smelled auto and bus exhaust, and food truck cuisine. In Chinatown I was tempted to buy a fake Rolex watch. But didn’t. There were t-shirts galore. All the sports teams, I heart New York, and one very interesting one that indicated the wearer had a serious dislike for someone out there. Key chains, ball caps, postcards, books and “art” everywhere. And people buying all of it.
What would I do? I had several Broadway Playbills, but don’t need to keep a bunch of paper around me. There was my week long subway pass. OK, I’ll tuck that away somewhere. That was a major accomplishment for me, but that’s another story. I had a couple of maps from tours and ticket stubs from museums. More paper I don’t need
My kids were looking for something to give me for Fathers Day and I was trying to find it. But it had to be good. My daughter works in the publishing industry, specifically with libraries around the world. So a natural stop for us was the New York City Public Library.
Beautiful old building built with the wealth of the late nineteenth century robber barons. They may have been greedy, but they left a few really wonderful things behind for mankind. Of course this library has a gift shop. Books yes. Pencils and keychains, yes. And t-shirts, hats and calendars. I let the kids get me a t-shirt. But then I saw it. The perfect thing.
There was a sign – “Information and Library Cards.” Holy smokes! I’ll get a library card!!!
When I was a kid my dad would take us to the library every Saturday morning. We’d all look around and grab a book to read. He wanted us to explore. And today my kids have library cards. The library holds all the treasures of the universe. Maybe not life size or in 3-D, but it has information on every single thing! And the library card gives you access to all of it.
This, the 53rdStreet branch, with its fabulous scholarly looking building, reading rooms, and collections, did indeed have it all. And the library card let me have it all too. So I got one. Easy. But the librarian told me that since I lived out of state it was only temporary. I could access all of this treasure from anywhere in the world on my cell phone or computer. But only for three months! The card, however, is made of plastic and will forever remind me to be curious. And where to go to find all the information.
That’s part of my story. What’s yours?