Memories for Sale

It’s a Fiction Friday! (Not that that’s going to be a thing, necessarily. But it alliterates well. And yes, I know that this actually got published on Saturday, but only by minutes. Shh.) The idea is based on a modified Daily Post prompt It’s kind of experimental, and I’m not sure how well the play with formatting and POV works. Constructive criticism welcome!

You stand in the middle of the aisle in the flea market, buffeted on both sides by the constant swish of down parkas, the scratch of wool coats, the stomp of booted feet over slush-covered asphalt. It’s the morning rush, as all the early risers finish their purchases and the late-comers arrive to sift through what’s left, and between the two streams of people you feel like a rock caught in a stream running two ways at once.

The crowd pushes you until you’re backed up against a stall at the far end of the aisle. Behind you, an old lady sits behind a table that’s been squashed between a record booth and a booth selling dusty glass ornaments. She’s wrapped up tight in what looks like three layers of shawls, a head scarf, a muffler, and thick handknit fingerless gloves with flaps folded back. A couple of gray flyaways flutter in the icy wind that seems to be finding its way through every gap between coat and glove and scarf. She has dark eyes that nevertheless twinkle amid her many layers.

You nod politely and step closer to the table, holding out your hands to a small heater she has going in the corner, look at the table to justify your presence.

Of all the strange things you’ve seen at this place, her table is by far the strangest collection–not the usual collection of knickknacks or old record or books or handmade jewelry. Instead the lady has rows and rows of glass vials, tiny tubes, and squat glass jars with wide corks sealed with wax. The bottles are lined up on the table like ranks of soldiers, each one neatly labeled in a curious, spidery hand, like old apothecary bottles. But that is not the strangest part. Up close, it gets stranger.

The bottles all seem to be empty.

You ask the old lady what they’re meant to be, but at first she seems reluctant to say; instead she just smiles and nods her head toward them. Take a look. You bend closer to peer at the labels, but they are no help, seemingly nonsensical:

The Beach, August 1948

September 12, 2001, 1:18am

Grandma’s House

When pressed, the lady leans forward with a glance to either side, as if afraid of others overhearing.

They are memories, she says. Memories for sale.

You look again at the labels on the bottles. Words and phrases jump out at random–wedding, birthday, first kiss, mom, dad, love. There are some towards the back that seem dustier, grimer, and those have a different sort of words--accident, divorce, death.

How much does a memory cost?

She shrugs. No amount of money can buy a memory, she says. Memories are priceless things. Everyone knows that. They require a different sort of currency; something of equal value. She picks up a bottle and spins it in her fingers, looking at it closely as though she can see the memory inside. Perhaps she can. Then she holds it out to you.

A memory for a memory. One of yours for one of hers.

You take the bottle from her, imitate her close inspection. The glass has a warmth you can feel through your gloves. Is it just your imagination, or does the bottle seem heavier than it should, now that you know the value of the contents?

But why? you ask. Why trade one of your memories for someone else’s? What would be the point?

She shrugs again. It’s different for everyone. Some are seeking something new, something their life is missing, something they have lost, or something they can never have. Some people are selling. They want to forget, to trade in one memory for another. Of course, it’s hardly ever that easy–bad memories are bad trade.

But she is generous, and arrangements can be made. Good memories can become security. Collateral. That is the most delicate balance–take enough that they will miss it, leave enough that they still care. It’s an art. Not just anyone could do it.

She smiles at you, a different smile from before. It is not an entirely nice smile.

So how about it?

She spreads her arms to indicate her wares. Her hands are worn and wrinkled, the fingertips beyond the edge of her gloves rough from years of work. But they are steady, rock solid, capable hands. The bottles glint in the sunlight–past days, past years, a thousand snatches of different lives, bottled up.

See anything you like?

A Bookworm’s Dilemma

IMG_0092I have a rather large collection of books currently stacked on a table in my room. It’s not all my books–I have two boxes from Denison that I never really unpacked except to pull out individual books, and a couple bookshelves in the corner, mostly full of books from my childhood that don’t get read very much anymore. These are just the books that were lying around my room in various stacks before I began organizing; that is, books I have read/been reading/meant to read/acquired during the past year or so.

When I move to Louisville, I won’t be able to take most of my books with me. It would be silly to cart/ship a whole slew of books across the country when I have no guarantee I’ll be there more than nine months. (Luckily, there is a library close by, so new book acquisitions will not be a problem). But even so, I can’t bring NO books, because let’s face it, that would be even sillier, and also utterly unthinkable.

So here comes the only less slightly unthinkable challenge:

I have to CHOOSE MY FAVORITE BOOKS.

Basically I have to decide which ten or twelve or so books I want most to have with me over the next year. I was talking to my friend Holly about this, and she described these books as “comfort books”. I think that’s a pretty apt description–books that I have read several times over but that when I have a quiet moment and want something to read I will always turn to, like old, familiar friends. Rereading books is something some people don’t understand, but I love it–sometimes I stumble across a part I had forgotten about, or I see a thing I hadn’t noticed before, or I understand something I didn’t when I first read the book at age twelve. But sometimes it’s nice to just get lost in a familiar labyrinth of words, knowing that you already know the path through, but enjoying the journey all the same.

So this is my dilemma–which journeys will I want/need/miss the most when I move away? As may be obvious from the above picture, there are a lot of books that I love, a lot of books that I have turned to for comfort over the past few years, all for different reasons. How am I supposed to choose?

As far as moving questions go, it seems pretty frivolous. There are far bigger and more important questions to think about, like housing and budgets and groceries and transportation. But as any fellow book lover will know, taking a familiar book with you to a strange place is kind of like taking a piece of home. And I think having just the right bits of home with you in a new place can make a big difference.

So….now I just have to choose.

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One Year Later

Last weekend marked a year since I graduated college.

WHAT?

It’s hard to believe it’s already been a year. It’s a very strange feeling. On the one hand, it doesn’t feel like it’s been all that long; on the other hand, when I think about college and my life at Denison, all of it seems very far away, very far removed from where I am now. I guess life is like that–time goes by quickly and slowly all at once, depending on how you look at it.

There are times when I miss college a lot. Most of all I miss my friends–I especially miss living with my friends. II miss having a social circle who were always there, always no more than a five minute walk away. It was so easy to hang out when no one really had to travel anywhere (though on the other hand, it’s amazing how much more daunting a five minute walk up the hill was when you never had to go up except for an occasional class).  miss small ridiculous things and late night runs to the doughnut shop, and the opportunity to see free live music regularly. I miss the theatre and the scene shop and DITA and all the crazy awesome things we did.

But for all the things that I miss, I don’t know that I would want to go back. I was ready for something else by the time college was over–not necessarily ready to leave my friends, but ready to stop being a student. Even though it’s an intensely scary thought, I was ready (and am ready) to be my own person, and take all the stuff I learned in school and start living.

Life after college has been a mix of surprises and disappointments; things that turned out pretty much how I expected, and other things that really didn’t. In some ways, my first year since graduation has not been quite the resounding success I had hoped for. I’m living at home. I have yet to get my own apartment or a salaried job (see previous post re: the difficulties of adulting). Living at home means that I am far away from my friends here, so I see them less. Socializing is harder, and sometimes I get a bit depressed about how little I hang out with people compared to at Denison.

But on the bright side: I’ve been doing theatre. I’m so glad that I got the gig with Shady last summer, not only because they were awesome shows (and they were really awesome shows), but because through them I got introduced to a really fantastic, friendly, welcoming theatre community that I hadn’t even known existed here. I’ve met so many amazing people here in the last year, had such a great time working with them and getting to know them onstage and off.

And now I’m leaving for a new adventure. I have this feeling that I might end up bouncing back and forth between the Midwest and California (and possible England, if I have any luck) for the next while, because I love all these places, and I might have difficulty picking just one place to settle down. Who knows where I’ll be in a year’s time?

I think when you graduate college you expect something exciting and profound to happen in your first year in the real world. You’ll go to new places and do new things and find your calling and figure out who you really are, or whatever. I did go to new places and do new things, but I’m only a little less clueless than I was this time last year. And that’s okay. Someone once told me that no one expects you to have your shit together until your twenty-eight. I hope to have things figured out a little sooner than that, but it’s comforting to think that leaving school doesn’t mean you automatically have to know everything. Surprise! Learning doesn’t stop when you graduate. I can’t wait to see what I learn during this next year.

Here’s to the next adventure!

(And congratulations once again to all my newly-graduated friends! Welcome to the real world. :D)

 

Motivation Levels Critical

As evidenced by the increasing late-ness of these posts, motivation seems to be particularly thin on the ground lately…thin in the air…just generally pretty trim.

(Eddie Izzard, folks. Particularly this bit)

I don’t really have anything to blame this on this week. I Hate Hamlet is over. My show at the high school is over. Things haven’t really started revving up yet for Twelfth Night (although I do need to finish putting my book together and print out paperwork and other fun pre-production things).

Apart from work, I’m the most un-busy I’ve been in a while. Not that I don’t have things I should be doing–I have to fill out paperwork for Louisville, and I’m trying to find an apartment, and work out a budget, and make a list of all the other things I have to do before I leave (including fun questions like “Do I need to get a Kentucky driver’s license?” God I hope not).

Maybe it’s because it’s End-Of-The-School-Year time and since all my big projects are finished my brain has decided it’s summer vacation, but I have had immense difficulty getting myself to do anything productive in the last week. I wonder how long it will take before my brain stops being programmed for School Time and Summer Time and starts being programmed for Adult Time. Actually what will probably happen, if my yearly schedule remains much as it was this year and will be next year, is that School Time will become Season Time and Summer Time will be Summer Stock Time, which is almost the same except Summer Stock Time isn’t vacation. Sad Day. This is one thing I like about my chosen career/lifestyle so far–there are distinct beginnings and ends to certain parts of the year that break up routine, so it’s not just one long expanse of Work.

On a semi-related note, thinking about moving and apartment hunting has made me realize how many Adult things I am still mainly ignorant of. I’ve never had to look for an apartment before because I went to a four-year residential college. I’ve never had to pay rent or utilities or do all those adult things that come with having an apartment. I have had to make budgets, but they were missing key Adult factors because a lot of the costs of living were built into school expenses. So this year will be a learning experience. I think I will do okay, but sometimes I feel a little behind in some ways in the whole Growing Up department. I guess a lot of people probably feel that way, and maybe I shouldn’t worry about it, but worrying is a thing for me, and so I do. It doesn’t help that I’m looking for housing in a place which is several thousand miles away from my current location. I feel like I would feel better about all this if I could go and look at the places instead of just trying to figure things out from promo pictures.

But I have time, and potential roommates, and prospects, so all will be well. I do sort of wish I could skip this part, but I guess this is part of Adulting–not getting to skip or sidestep the hard, annoying parts of life. This is good for me.

Yay adulthood!

An Attempt at Vlogging

I’ve been working my way through the original Brotherhood 2.0 videos on YouTube (which, if you don’t know, is a project John and Hank Green did in 2007 where they communicated solely through video blogs for a year. Their channel, vlogbrothers, became famous and six years later they performed on stage at Carnegie Hall. Life is weird like that).

Anyway, watching all these videos made me want to try out vlogging for myself–although I’ve never been terribly good at talking to a camera. I didn’t realize till later that WordPress doesn’t let you embed videos in your posts unless you pay them a lot of money, so here’s a link:

Vlog! (In which Rachel has obviously been watching way too much Brotherhood 2.0, and also has some exciting news).

I don’t think this will become a regular thing, but it was fun to try. Enjoy!