I took my first trip overseas when I was 17 years old and it’s been non-stop journey ever since. Almost every summer I strap on my globetrotting shoes and take off to explore all the beauty this world has to offer. I always find a little piece of myself hiding in some far flung place as though it was waiting for me to bring it home. Perhaps, that’s why I don’t buy souvenirs. The best memories come from experiences and the epiphanies that follow. None of which can be bought in a tourist trap. Instead, I look to where my feet land and pick up what lies in my path.
Upper left: Prague
The larger block is a cobblestone from a sidewalk I strolled along every day. In the morning I’d wonder what I would see that day and in the evening I was filled with awe. The strength and beauty of this place taught me to never give up . . . ever.
The white stone is from the Vltava River. In the middle of the river is an island park filled with large trees and park benches. The shade and quiet made for a nice afternoon of reading and picking up stones.
The gray stone is from a walkway that winds through Prague’s infamous Jewish graveyard. The Jewish Quarter of Prague tells a story that spans centuries of segregation when Jews were relegated to one small part of the city and one small graveyard. The result is an overcrowded cemetery filled with gravestones piled one on top of the other. I picked up this stone to remind me of the struggles that so many endured on account of racism and hate. It symbolizes my hope that humanity will one day learn this lesson for good.
Upper Middle: London
The white shell and flat red stone are from the shoreline of Thames. In a previous post, Sand in My Shoes, I wrote about fulfilling my bucket list wish of walking along the Thames at low tide. These two items are my mementos of crossing that item off my list.
Upper right: Ireland
The large gray stone is from the Burren region. I picked it up after walking to the edge of a cliff that towers over the ocean. I looked straight down a couple hundred feet and watched the waves crash against craggy rocks and into a hollow ravine. There was no rail to keep me from falling and no one around to hold me back. There’s nothing quite as terrifying or liberating as looking out to the open sea and realizing there is nothing to catch me. The stone serves as a reminder to be brave and put my toe to the edge.
The ragged gray rock is a piece of mortar from Blarney Castle. If the castle comes crumbling down, I guess you can blame me. This little piece came from a spot near the bottom of the back wall of the castle. It was already loose, so I just finished the job. I wish I had a better reason other than I thought it was a cool thing to have, but I don’t. How many people can say, “I have a piece of Blarney Castle?”
The seashell crescent and the two stones beside it are from the coastline of Waterville . I’m not much of a beach person, but the ocean is beautiful no matter where it crashes ashore. It was a rainy, cold day but the sound of waves lulled me out to the sandy beach. This part of Ireland is very serene so I picked up a few smooth stones as a way to take that feeling home with me.
Click for more . . .
Sometimes travel takes me a little closer to home . . .
Lower Left: Wisconsin
The Maple and Birch leaves are from the woods around my aunt and uncle’s cabin. Wisconsin is home to many wonderful childhood memories. As an adult, I still take leaves home to keep the Northwoods with me as much as possible. Sometimes I think my inner child lives in those leaves.
Lower Middle: South Carolina
The purple seashells and shark teeth fossils are from Myrtle Beach. When I was younger I went to South Carolina number of times to visit family. Saltwater has never been a friend to my skin, so I walked up and down the beach instead. I enjoyed the time to think and the treasures that often appeared in the sand. A sharp eye will find dozens of shark teeth in a single day (I have hundreds more!). Both the shells and teeth are like little testaments of history and I love feeling that connection with the past.
But I always end up wandering off to somewhere far away . . .
Lower Right: French Polynesia
The coral comes from the coast of Huahine, a tiny less developed island near Tahiti. I loved the solitude and peace of this island, but the coral kept me on my toes. One lapse in attention and it’ll cut right into your foot. Ouch! This particular piece didn’t get any blood out of me, but it very well could have! I picked it up for its beauty, but also because it reminds me to always be aware of my surroundings.
I keep all of these items on a shelf where I can see them every day. Not only do they conjure wonderful memories of the places I’ve been, but they keep me curious of the next place awaiting my arrival.