(Originally appeared on CrapAtCrafts as a guest-blog on 17 May 2012)
I’d say I consider myself a scrap-booker, with one hesitation: is it really scrapbooking if it very rarely actually makes it into an album?
To be honest, I have a tendency to keep things. In fact, I’ve got tons and tons and tons, figuratively speaking (perhaps that last ‘tons‘ was excessive) of ”paper memorabilia”, and it’s nearly all in boxes. I fantasize on a semi-regular basis of one day placing all the pieces in a nicely bound almanac or album of some kind, of the sort people traditionally use to hold their mementos. The photo or ticket stub or what-not held in place with those triangular little sticky tabs at each corner. You know the kind of sticky tabs I’m talking about? I’m not sure where I’d buy them in the 21st century, but there must have been a post office or malt shop just giving them out for free in the 1950s & ’60s, because nearly every old-timey movie or TV series I’d see as a kid would at one point or another show somebody flipping through an album full of them. How did everybody have the time back then to sit down and make those? Was there that much more free-time due to the lack of cell phone texts, Tweets, Angry Birds, etc etc? I’d love to pretend so. But the answer to why they have those albums, so easy to flip through, whereas I have slightly less-welcoming boxes-in-a-closet likely lies with the kind of stuff I tend to save:
For instance, I’ve got a folder full of what were–to me, anyway– weird and or exceptional candy & beverage wrappers from my trip to New Zealand in 2004…
Mind you, this is but one specific example, for I have always loved weird regional foods and drinks, taking notice of unusual variants on the snacks I’d come to expect in the grocery aisles or 7-Eleven displays in my native Florida. Growing up in that part of the American south, I knew I could count on Peanut or Plain being the two flavors of M&Ms I’d encounter. A simple choice there. Only when I traveled with my family to New England for a family wedding, encountering both Mint and Peanut Butter (!) M&M options in a hotel vending machine, did I realize the possibility of what unknowns could lie out there. And thus, a love of Travel was born.
I realize this blog is about scrap-booking as pertains to the overall theme of Arts & Crafts, so I should probably move on, but for the curious reader I’ll add that the above story happened around the year 1992, and that Peanut Butter M&Ms did wind up making a debut in Florida in the subsequent year or two. The world would have to wait a full decade or more for the Mint variety to escape that particularly regional test marketing.
If PB Mint M&Ms blew my mind, you can imagine when I went Down Under (then slightly SouthEast) to NZ in 2004 and saw they had HAZELNUT Snickers –as well as a ton of meat pies– at nearly every fuel station. I mean, really: who chooses the hazelnut out from all other nuts? That really is a bit exotic a taste to a kid raised on peanuts or perhaps the stray wildalmond when reckless abandon took hold… Or you should have seen me in Vancouver Canada in October 2000 when, seriously, a Reese‘s peanut buttercup was labeled in both French AND English, thus making it Reeses‘ peanut butter cup, not a Reese’s. They also came 3 Cups to a pack and not 2. I don’t think I need to explain my excitement there.
So these are the things I’d keep, things like these wrappers. I’d always clean them, of course. Believe me, the contents were methodically devoured entirely. This may put me in the scrap-booking minority for a number of reasons, not merely because I’m a guy practicing a craft (or potential craft in this case) that has been marketed mainly to women, but because of the types of things I keep. I don’t know if other humans keep candy wrappers from foreign countries. I could certainly find out though, couldn’t I? I mean, this is after all The Internet! I’m resisting the urge. Partially this resistance comes as a result of my desire to actually finish this blog, and if I go off on a candy collector web-searching spree I might not be back until next week. The greater reason I hold off? I didn’t collect those items myself, not on trips to where they flourished in the wild, nor with anybody I met there with whom I shared the experience. The value these items hold to me is, in part, the very fact that they still exist in my immediate physical world. They’re all immediately available to view and hold up close, and all have a story attached. If only I can locate the correct box they’re in.
If there are others out there who collect like I do, it may be for different reasons. I find I come home with a greater abundance of these little cultural artifacts of confection following a trip or experience I’ve wanted to remember dearly, at times simply because of the time I’d had, but most often due to the people I had met or traveled with & a hungry desire to cherish and remember it all.
What’s funny or perhaps odd to me, is that those wrappers and pamphlets and local free magazines at the hotel went straight into a Manila folder, not into any sort of proper manner of display, and that very folder has been shifted from apartment to apartment, to trunk-of-car, to storage space to apartment to filing cabinet to gosh-I’m-not-quite-sure-where-it-is-now. . . never having made it into an album. I do care about these mementos, obviously. In fact, I remember strolling through the Down Under collection during my last move just a few months ago, spending enough time even to snip a few covers off magazines and removing the front of an particular box of cereal (Rice Crispies are called Rice Bubbles down there, I mean COME ON) so I could jettison the rest of the carton so that the Manila Folder ‘album’ might fit a little better into its bankers box. As a did so, a sort of Memory Slideshow of pictures I never took played out across my mind, containing all the best memories of that trip and its significance (in New Zealand’s case, my first time out of the Western Hemisphere, traveling with my mates in the first theater group I joined after moving to Los Angeles). Maybe it’s these memories and people that really matter, and the only audience they’re intended for is myself. Call me a softy, but that is my male perspective.
I’ll have to tell you about that can of Caffeine Free Dr. Pepper I found in west Kentucky, now that was a time . . .