It absolutely kills me to travel somewhere (anywhere) and not bring back souvenirs of some type. Travel mementos can be found all over my apartment, sometimes getting in the way to the point that I almost – almost – toss some out. There are the 1980s postcards from Myrtle Beach, the Mardi Gras mask from my first trip to the French Quarter, the excessive number of “Arkansas” “Florida” and similarly labeled stuffed animals that keep mysteriously moving from my bedroom to the living room floor. (I’m looking at you, cat.) Putting anything on my fridge means navigating around far too many magnets from per diem locations. Because, well, the more charmed by a location I was, the more magnets I took home from its little shops (but did I really need THREE Duluth magnets)? A funky wind-up plastic crab from Smith Island stares at me right now; his wide-mouthed kooky grin a shade over that fine line between friendly and creepy. Our cabinets overflow with souvenir glasses that I painstakingly lugged onto airplanes, fragile clunkers that Eric longs for me to donate to Goodwill.
When we went on our cruise this past March/April, our money situation was very tight thanks to my poor kitty’s ever-changing diabetes complications. They were many wonderfully made local crafts for sale at each port that we had to pass up. I told myself I could probably find many of them on Ebay later on, but I’m sadly discovering this is not the case. Eric did surprise me at our last port by offering to buy me the ugly $1 magnet of my choice. .A dopey-looking handmade frog with a loosely applied Cozumel sticker (now missing) was the winner, and now sits proudly on my fridge as a result. His goony expression gleefully reminds me of all the fun we had, of how easy it was to love Mexico in general. And that, I think, is the real charm of souvenirs. I know I can personally look at 90+ percent of the objects I own and recall the story behind it and how I got it. Every place I’ve been is another friend, every souvenir a little memory stuck to my fridge or on my shelf.