I don’t believe in souvenirs. Useless trinkets with memories attached are still useless trinkets that take up valuable space. A few months ago, when moving for the third time in four years, I lugged with me, for the third time in four years, a bag full of Mardi Gras beads. I can assure you, as I attempted to shove them in the top of my closet (and, failing to do so, they rained down upon my head), I wasn’t thinking about how much I loved New Orleans.
I prefer more ethereal keepsakes. For example, I just got back from West Palm Beach yesterday. I brought back with me the following things: sand, a heavy depression, a sunburn and roasted cashews. The sand, for the most part, is spread liberally and with much spite across my apartment floor. Some people call this “taking a piece of Florida with you,” but there’s a reason Florida isn’t in New York and it’s because I can’t afford a maid.
The depression stems, of course, from going through “lazy withdrawal.” This is a diagnosed medical disorder wherein a normal, healthy, middle class person tastes briefly the deliciousness of a life completely unobserved and thinks, “I need this.” Then it is all taken away, just like that. I like to think of my vacations like whirlwind romances. For a few days, it was the best of times. Then I realize there is no legitimate future with him, so I pick up and leave. Once I get home, I drink for a few days and look at his pictures, cherishing memories. Then Lost comes on and I forget all about him. Needless to say, the last thing I need is for him to leave some of his things behind.
The sunburn, though, is the only lingering reminder. Like love, it hurts at first but then fades from irritant into a nice, flattering tan. And, just like men, I can never avoid sunburns. Call me a romantic. The second my pale, New York skin steps off the plane in warmer climates, the primal urge to undress and bask in the skin-damaging UV rays is overwhelming. Even knowing the omnipresent dangers of skin cancer, I am utterly brainwashed by warmer climates. Put me on a beach chair and I can’t help but think, “Oh, you sure are gorgeous! I’m hungry.” But I digress. The point is, even when I am already burned and resort to slathering myself with the only available moisturizer (baby lotion) my equally brainwashed boyfriend convinces me to forge ahead. “I’m a 28 year old man,” he says. “The smell of baby lotion turns me on.”
Until all I’m left with is a small bag of roasted cashews, courtesy of JetBlue. Though even those, over the course of writing this article, have been consumed. I’m ready for my next vacation, with no baggage to check.