Why do I keep these things?
I find them in pockets sometimes, or in the back of a desk drawer. Or on a dresser top, buried under books and papers.
Sometimes they are receipts—do I keep them because I fantasize about being the kind of person who tracks his expenses diligently and accurately? Sometimes they are business cards—in fact I have an almost obsessive-compulsive business card collecting habit, but that is a story for another time. But there are less obvious things, too. Old movie ticket stubs. Promotional postcards that came in the mail. Fortunes from Chinese fortune cookies.
Last but not least are ticket stubs: flights to Chicago or Vancouver, B.C., trains to Portland or Seattle, busses to the Oregon coast. They finished their useful lives long ago, and now they sit in dark places in boxes and books and furniture, where I cannot bear to toss them away. Why? Surely you must do this, too.
This week, I found a set of Virgin America stubs, from a round trip to Chicago, lurking in an old metal cashbox which also holds random household tools. At the back of drawer full of staplers and old pens and random office supplies I came across the stubs from another Virgin America round trip, this time to Los Angeles.
I could toss them I suppose. Or I could entomb them back into a drawer, to be found one day when I move again, so that I can later puzzle over which trip they were from and why I had kept them, testaments to fallible human memory. Would I recall the ways that I felt about each trip? The specific moments, the ways that I hoped to distill places that were new to me (Los Angeles) or familiar and loved (Chicago)? A trip to the hardware store found a new use for them, and after about an hour of careful tearing and packing, the stubs have a new home.
Sample, Los Angeles and Chicago. Paper in glass bottle, 2016.