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We’ve written recently of our holiday ‘trip down memory lane’ — better known as visiting the archeological dig that masquerades as my basement.  Gill tries to come home from Britain with as little stuff in her suitcase as possible — to accommodate the stuff, treasures really, she senses (in the way a clairvoyant does) she will unearth and will decide she cannot live one more minute without in Britain. We had an epic adventure this past holiday and when she left to return to Bristol, her suitcase bulged. AND my basement was, dare I say, looking almost empty. Well, maybe not EMPTY, but certainly much less overburdened.

And so it was that I, having spent the last two delightful weeks in Mexico, knew my behavior would be carefully scrutinized (from afar) with respect to the ‘treasures’ I would bring back to fill up my house. I daren’t bring jars of ocean water, sea shells, or even Mexican ‘trinkets’ for gifts. Never mind customs issues — if my kids had to ditch the ‘useless junk’, so did I. A side note to Moms: be careful when you open your mouth. Things can and will quickly turn against you!

This time the archeological search began innocently (on Gill’s part) when I requested that she delve into the basement boxes that were hers to find the complete set of Nancy Drew books that I had promised to lend to the neighborhood girl. She is an avid reader and, at the tender age of 7, could read most adults under the table. She has recently discovered the delights of the girl detective. I was happy to let her have them — ON LOAN, as Gill pointed out firmly. Personally, I was happy to see another box that was not mine disappear from the dungeon beneath.

Gill began pulling down the top boxes for inspection. It was better than our actual Christmas morning gift unwrapping. What did we find that was so exciting, you ask? For starters, many collections of sea shells from various oceans. Even Gill was impressed and surprised at the number. “Was I trying singlehandedly to rob the oceans of all their shells?” she asked.

“Don’t feel too guilty,” I retorted in sympathetic motherly fashion. “What you didn’t pick up, I did. They’re in the pretty little dishes in the bathrooms upstairs. That was during my ‘Decorate Your Home The Martha Stewart Seaside Way’ period. My sense of guilt would be more all-encompassing if it weren’t for the fact that Global Warming will be destroying the beaches and oceans before anyone notices a few missing shells…”

Then we found the really good stuff! There were endless pictures of feet…bare feet. Feet in Sand. Feet in water. Feet in flip-flops. Feet in Birkenstocks. Most were Gill’s feet. Everytime she goes near a beach or body of water, she takes a picture of her feet. She doesn’t discriminate, however. She also has a collection of pics of the feet of friends and family. (Although I did notice the absence of a picture of MY feet in the water or sand. Gill probably thought my ugly toes and bunions might break her camera…or terrify  future archeologists when they take a stab at my basement treasures. She’d have been correct on both counts.

The oddest thing was that Gill could identify each person’s foot, each pair of sandals, each beach or ocean as well as the date and the circumstances surrounding the picture. I was amazed. She wasn’t. “Well, Ma, I think I have a whiff of Asburger’s about me…” That explains a lot.

We laughed at the discovery of her ‘Silver Surfer’ figure, still resplendent, an homage to her teen love of surfing and all things California.

There were tarnished silver rings from her graduation — rings given to her by my mother. Gill is very sentimental about them. (I suspect this is in large part due to the wonder she experienced at actually graduating!) Her high school career is better forgotten. I might have used this as a moment to comment negatively on that ‘black’ academic part of her life had we not at that very moment come across MY high school final marks record…complete with the impressive 36 in Algebra. Did I mention I have an M.A. in English but still hate math?

The best treasure of the lot was a post card that Gill had saved since her early days in university. She’d already decided to be a writer and wrote to noted author Jonathon Franzen. (I’ll assume she wrote to express her admiration for his work or advice on how to become a great writer. She may equally as likely have been requesting money.) But he took the time to write back — giving her an incredible ‘souvenir’ with his signature. And, of course, she will never throw it out…the small bottles of Pacific Ocean water maybe, but never the post card!

Sometimes you just have to enjoy a day of nostalgia in the basement. And sometimes, when you travel, you have to leave the beaches of the country you’re visiting intact. It IS a matter of the planet’s survival, but more importantly, it is a matter of your creds as a Mom! Thou shalt not steal sea shells, bits of driftwood, or other such bits and bobs. I feel certain that’s a rule somewhere in the Bible?