I struggled for a while on the last day of my trip to Boulder, trying to come up with the perfect souvenir from my home town. What could I take back to Oakland that would forever remind me of this place where I grew up?
I have drawers that are full and overflowing with T-shirts that remind them of places I have gone and concerts I have seen. One in particular that came from a University of Colorado athletic department dumpster more than forty years ago that has become a staple in my athletic wear. Much to my wife's chagrin. It takes me back to a time when my older brother and I would seek out anything that resembled a link to the football program. He got a broken helmet once. I got that T-shirt.
So I don't really need a T-shirt.
I took a bunch of pictures, many of which are repeats of photos I have taken on trips to my hometown previously. Evidence of having returned to this corner or that. Vistas that have been photographed by professionals long before I came along with my cell phone and affirmed their choice of an angle or subject. The mountains, it seems, are lovely. And that's the way I remember them when I close my eyes anyway, so these are redundant memories as well.
So I didn't really need all those pictures, either.
I think that the thing I will bring back with me is the gin rummy game. My mother and I sat at her dining room table and played cards into the night. Initially, I had to remind her of the rules she had taught me when I was eleven, but soon we were on an even keel and we talked about everything but the rules to the game, since they had been internalized so very long ago. It was not unlike the hours we spent together wandering around the rest of her house, out in the yard, sitting down to have lunch on her deck in the back yard. We started talking and kept kibbitzing until we realized that it was time to move on and do something else. The gin rummy game was one of those activities that kept our hands busy while we pursued the main focus of my trip: reminiscing and catching up and sharing our thoughts about what had been and what will be. It was a direct link to all those games we played at one end of the dining room table at our mountain cabin, by the light of a kerosene lamp.
I needed that gin rummy game. I'm taking that home with me.