I still retain a few objects from my childhood that remind me of the origins of my interest in the wide world and travelling.
I had a particular favourite aunt who would send me postcards from London and gifts from Europe. My grandparents travelled occasionally, too, although I could never read the curly script of my “Grumpa” on the reverse of their cards. My grandmother sent me some utterly amazing, extravagant dresses from Paris. I remember lacquered chopsticks and a miniature Chinese lantern that I treasured.
At the time that I received these gifts and cards, they seemed like a fascinating insight into lands far away. Real princesses? Dragons? Dancing pineapples? Sensational!
I wanted to visit the places where these sights were apparently quite normal.
Most of the gifts that were sent to me have been given away or lost through multiple moves and growing up. However, my mother happened upon many of my postcards recently and I was thrilled when she returned them to me.
When I look at them now, I am transported again. Now I also travel in time (a very long time, as you can guess by the royal wedding photographs), back to when I was so young that the images in my mind of the world were invented and fantastical.
Now that I have travelled to some of these places for myself, I have populated my mind with images of the real thing. As a grown-up, I value those original childhood perceptions because they’re a reminder that the real world is indeed fantastic and magical, if you look at it the right way.
(I’m feeling nostalgic right now because, due to my own carelessness, a tin containing some childhood treasures was stolen from my front porch this very morning. I had been looking at it yesterday and left it sitting vulnerably without thinking: who would have thought that anyone else would be interested in a child’s collection? It was all fairies and paper flowers and not worth a thing to anyone else. I’m feeling very foolish as well as sad about it.
Writing this has been a comfort because I’m reminded that it’s the memories that are precious, not the things that inspire the memories).