Thursday, February 3, 2011

Paper Trail

Sitting in Starbucks with my usual small, or should I say "tall" cappuccino, and thinking about writing something in the small notebook that I carry, I found a small, folded piece of paper tucked inside the back cover. Its contents can be summarized thus: The Cheesecake Factory. Table 13. #Party 2. Dated February 20th, 2010. To be precise, 12.19 p.m.

It was a receipt, nearly a year old, from a day when Kate and I spent a time at the Smith Haven Mall, shopping. Well, let me re-write that last sentence. She excelled in shopping, and I excelled in migrating between armchairs, occasionally drinking coffee, reading, and dreaming of a world where corporate retail stores were truly interesting.

The discovery (or was it re-emergence?) of that receipt was a thoughtful moment in itself, as I spent a few minutes trying to recall that day. What stores had we visited? What had we, sorry, she bought? What did we have for lunch? That was easy. We had Cuban sandwiches. What was the weather that day? Was the sun shining? (Who knows, but that is the point of a mall, isn't it? To shield the shopper from environmental reality.) So many thoughts, and happy memories.

From time to time I clean out my wallet and sift through countless such thin pieces of paper. Receipts, mostly extremely boring. Supermarket: Milk, pasta, sausage, tea, bread, lettuce. Hardware store: Glue, paint, floor cleaner. Staples: Printer paper. Is there anything stimulating, provoking or suggestive there? Of course not! But now and then one of those small often crumpled, pieces of paper will emerge from a forgotten pocket or wallet fold. And a happy, human, memory is created by these computer generated printouts. A specific occasion and purchase. A special meal, or coffee, or drink, or calendar. Perhaps I should keep these receipts. Actually I do.

No comments: