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While rummaging through the desk drawer looking for some scissors I found a bronze paper clip. Its circumference is about 3-4 inches, about the size of a coaster. At first glance it resembles a set of castanets. The clip is covered with scenes from Minoan Crete. On one side is the nobleman pictured above; the other has a bull. My grandparents gave me this upon their return from one of their trips. The gift goes back to the early 70s or perhaps even to the late 60s. I didn’t know I still had it. It was an amazing find.

I remember many times in my youth eagerly waiting in the airport with my parents for my grandparents  to return from a world-wide excursion. In hindsight I had the erroneous belief they constantly traveled and always to exotic places no one has ever heard or been to before.

I was most excited about what they were going to bring me; there was always something in their pockets or carry-on given out soon after the hugs.

This paperclip must have come from some trip to Greece.  I once received a little matador bullfighter cap. There was another time when it was a fish flag from Japan. My favorite item was a carved troll, probably from Denmark or Norway. I didn’t think any of these have survived until I discovered the clip. My favorite was the troll. He had a face lit with the smile of a brilliant sunrise. He hung on a string. I carried him everywhere, wondering what sort of world he came from.

These souvenirs were seen as magical, unique – as awesome as relics. Now I wonder. The Minoan-based paperclip looks mass-produced. I wonder too did my grandparents get these things on their way to the airport, stopping at some convenience tourist shop to grab something at eye level – quick, cheap, and thoughtless? Who can say.  In my mind’s eye these were gifts of love and invitations to someday travel myself.

Nowadays I am not so sure. I am a timorous traveler. Is it synchronicity this clip suddenly appear as I wonder about when if ever am I going to travel?  It seems to say seek out my own souvenirs, and go find the trolls.

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