“I'm a creature of fine sensations”
~ Mary Shelley
Until I met my fella, I wasn’t really a souvenir collecting kind of girl. Yes, I have sand in a jar from Phoenix because I tried to move there twice and never made it for different reasons but that was collected without an intention of labeling it as a keepsake. It was an aspiration: a one day. And, the sand actually was given to me by a friend who lived there.
I always associated souvenirs with those silly little mementos such as snow globes that have the name of a state added to it, which in a few months gets trashed. My fella has a completely different perspective and shared that souvenirs do not have to be mass-marketed purchases but personal. The souvenir doesn’t even have to make sense to others as long as it is personal to you. Souvenirs are typically something that is kept as a reminder of a place you have visited or of an event you have attended but mine are often connected to themes that I associate with a certain time.
While on vacation in Colonial Williamsburg, my fella spotted a way to spend my money: a Nutcracker of the Monster of Frankenstein. Well, it isn’t just any nutcracker but a Steinbach that is handcrafted and imported from Germany that was signed by Karla Steinbach. The nutcracker is part of the "Horror Legends" Series, a limited edition series of 5000 Steinbach nutcrackers (which doesn’t seem *that* limited to me) that was launched in 2013 with Count Dracula, Frankenstein's Monster in 2014, and, followed with the Werewolf in 2015. Since this is a special 200th anniversary summer of when Frankenstein was written, the nutcracker ended up being the perfect souvenir. When he was first pointed out to me I knew that he was coming home with us. After all, he was surrounded by Christmas nutcrackers and he was the spookiest item in the store. The shop attendant who originally tended to us was a young undergraduate English major. My fella said that by making such a large purchase I destroyed every argument she may have had about majoring in a field where one is guaranteed to make a decent living.
They wrapped up the package in the colors of red, white, and blue for our Independence Day vacation and I carried him back to our inn. I was never a collector of dolls since they've always scared me but carrying the little nutcracker's coffin made me feel very little girl and special. If I hadn't been worried about dropping him, I probably would have skipped the half mile back.
My fella and I also leave trinkets behind as gifts or souvenirs to our future selves. We tuck small notes behind mirrors or portraits in rooms where we know we will return. It’s a fun adventure to see if the letters still remain or if someone has cleaned them away. So far, they’ve been left for us to find. We do not collect them but check on them and then leave them for the next year. It helps that we often return to the same locations annually. And before anyone notes that that is boring or wonders why, I commute a great deal for work and my fella and I both have illnesses that are affected by travel. For me, living with Ménière's disease means that even fun anxiety associated with travel can send me into an attack of vertigo. Routine and consistency become my best friend, which is fine because in live I’m pretty much a creature of habit.