sticker memories.

it’s funny how a sound, smell or song can take you back in time.

each of those can be tied to a moment of significance or maybe insignificance. certain ones may date you – like watching the intros to thundercats or he-man on you-tube and being shocked that i remember all of the words to the song. or watching teenage mutant ninja turtles and suddenly i’m at a california drive-in watching a double feature with honey i shrunk the kids and the four turtles in a half shell.

songs are even stranger.

i remember waiting and waiting for the radio to play lisa loeb’s stay so i could record it on my cassette tape. i did get it but i also got the d.j. talking at the end… just last weekend sports guy damon sang no doubt’s “sorry i’m not home right now” and i was back in the dorms my freshman year. then there are the countless songs that remind me of slow dance after slow dance of just standing there and feeling incredibly awkward and alone (hold on little girl, more than words, everybody hurts, november rain…)

food triggers memories of friends and family. ambrosia is my granny’s house. chinese food is my family on new years eve. my first indian was in nashville. sushi and thai both started for me in dupont circle. hummus was born when my roommate used her blender to mix up chick peas.

today something brought back a memory but in a way i hadn’t expected.

any child who spent any amount of time in the 80s enjoyed their share of stickers. there were so many kinds – and often the coolest were the expensive ones. you’d have to trade and barter to get the puffy ones. or the glittery ones. or the scratch and sniff ones. you were warned by parents and teachers to not stick them to desks or books or walls… but the stickiness found its way to adhere to just about anything.

while living in brazil a former roommate who shared a mutual fondness* for cats** sent me a letter covered in fuzzy cat stickers. those little cats were cut off my envelope and reattached to hers… needless to say the felines made several round trips through the correio postal.

i still like to look at the stickers in the store. every now and then i splurge and buy the ones that are more than sticky paper in shapes should be. earlier today i stood in the middle of a very crowded elementary school gym. people of all ages were lined up. they showed their drivers licenses. they spent a few minutes in a make shift booth… and then turned to walk away. a smiling grandma type women wearing a red and blue sweater stood towards the back with a roll of stickers. she waited with one round sticker on her outstretched pointer finger, and person after person came to her. i watched as one old man slowly made his way to her. the sticker went from one wrinkled hand to the other and then proudly the man pressed it to his rain splotched jacket.

that sticker, in that moment represented so much. it’s the kind of memory that will stick with me. i returned a few hours later to that same school. the rain was still falling. the gym was less crowded. i was faced with five decisions, i turned and walked to the same woman to get my sticker.

*disgust
**the opposite of my favorite animal

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