Hi, I’m Jon. I’m the souvenirs.
Or, rather, I am the reason for which the word “souvenirs” is in this blog’s name.
I should explain why that is.
I really like them! It’s pretty much that simple I guess. I don’t know, I suppose I go around to new places and see little things and just think they’re kind of cool and so I buy them.
I used to not do this. Traveling around the United States as a kid, I didn’t feel especially compelled to buy anything from anywhere I went (as opposed to now, where I sometimes feel like I am compelled to buy everything from everywhere I go).
But when I went to college and left the country for the first time to go to Italy with a few friends, our first stop was in Florence, and we went to the Duomo and climbed up inside it and out onto the ledge and took in that view of the Tuscan cityscape and man, it was just incredible.
And then we went back down into the square and I saw a shop with a little Duomo souvenir replica statue and I bought it, cause the Duomo was to that point I thought the most amazing thing I’d ever seen or that anyone could see and I just wanted to, I dunno, hold onto a little bit of it.
And I just kind of kept doing that everywhere I traveled. And I traveled a lot. And I accumulated a lot of stupid little souvenirs. It became a running joke among friends.
I bought them for myself, mostly, because I liked, as at the Duomo, holding onto a little bit of the places I saw. But also for my family and friends, cause I just enjoyed kind of spreading my travels through the wonder of, like, snow globes and magnets.
But most of all I liked collecting all these crappy souvenirs, and coins and tickets and any other stuff I could reasonably keep, because they are tangible. A picture is a wonderful, vivid portrait of where I was and who I was when I was there. And I take plenty of them, badly, to remember just exactly those things.
But stuff – souvenirs – I can touch and hold and feel. I can remember how a place felt and how it felt to be in that place. They are triggers, like photos, of memories. Only they also carry, in however small a way, the corporeality of memories.
And yes, that's all stupid. Of course it's stupid. Souvenirs – the cheap, mass-produced garbage that is the same in shops from airports to malls to street markets to souks to bazaars to little stands at overcrowded tourist destinations (kind of democratic though, no?) – as "the corporeality of memories?"
That is overly wordy, borderline conceited nonsense.
But it is my nonsense. It is, in its stupid way, what I get out of the quick, small transactions for tchotchkes. knickknacks, trinkets, mementos. From souvenirs. Unceasingly stupid souvenirs. But also unceasingly silly. And I like silly.
I own 18 model statues of famous buildings, sites and, well, statues from around the world. I own beer glasses and shot glasses and keychains and buttons and pins from all of the 21 countries I've been to. I own a sample-size bottle of cologne from Cologne.
A little bit of it sits on display for me to look at and hold and, in extremely rare cases, explain to curious observers. But most of it sits in a box and will continue to sit in a box, to be opened from time to time for a recollection.
And, I dunno, I like that. I like that I have been to the Pyramids of Giza, seen the Great Wall of China, walked around the Roman Colosseum, and then bought a dumb little replica that I can pick up and remember those places with. I like seeing a little turtle with "Seychelles" painted on it or a little elephant with the Thai flag on it and thinking, "hey, ain't that nifty" and then buying it and keeping it. And rifling through a box, finding it again some time later and thinking "hey, ain't that nifty."
I like beer bottle caps and patches and whatever other random stuff that can be found in the wonderfully diverse and dynamic world out there. Stuff is, I guess bizarrely, universal.
So I take some of it. To keep, to display or store, to every now and then just kind of fiddle with. So that I might momentarily appreciate that I have traveled around this wonderfully diverse and dynamic world and that I might remember what it has felt like to do it.
Hopefully, someday I can show all this junk to my kids, and maybe they will be inspired themselves to seek out the world. It would be cool.
If all this is, indeed, overly wordy, borderline conceited (perhaps not so borderline) nonsense, then please forgive me. This blog is primarily the project of my beautiful fiancée Alex and her experience of our life abroad, exploring as much as we can. I hope to simply add a little to it.
And with all this, (maybe) what I’ve added is a coherent explanation for why this blog is called what it is. I like stupid stuff, is the short of it. I am easily, unendingly amused by the silly little stuff I find in this big world.
It is, collectively, a tangible and personally treasured reminder that I have been throughout this big world, finding.
Sentimental value, I believe would be a simple explanation.