Sometimes, All It Takes Is A Memory (Or Two)

I’m not sure if it’s because of summer finally arriving in all her sunshiney glory, distractions around the house, or general lethargy, but my writing has been unceremoniously shoved onto the back burner lately. And so, this morning, I decided I needed to go on the search for some much-needed inspiration.

Step one, as usual, involved coffee. (Don’t judge me. Caffeine sometimes jump starts my brain into that “be creative and funny” space that orange juice just doesn’t accomplish.)

Brain cells active after a cup (or two), I sat down at my computer, opened up Spotify, and pulled up my new favorite playlist. It’s titled “Take Me Back.” And it’s filled with 90s radio hits. And it makes me giddy.
2Pac and Green Day and Train…Oh My!

Tunes rockin’ from the speakers, I clicked on my internet browser and headed over to Abby Gabs. Confident something blog-worthy would smack me in the face, I opened up a new document. And sat there for 20 minutes, the white page staring starkly at my caffeinated face.
For some reason, in the nano-second before I clicked the red X and gave in to my writer’s block for the day, I was struck with the sudden urge to give it one last college try. I took my coffee and headed for one of my several book shelves. And there, on the top shelf, covered in an embarrassing layer of dust, was the book that I thought might solve all my problems.
A graduation gift from a high school sweetheart, and we’re back in business, baby!

Filled with faith that Shel would help me out of my writing funk, I wiped the dust from the jacket and headed back to my desk. I began to thumb through the pages, smiling at the pencil sketches, giggling at the silly rhymes. Memories of my younger self, sitting in the floor of my dorm room, this same book in my lap, flooded my brain. I flipped to my favorite poem in the book from memory, barely noticing the small slip of paper that floated down to land in my lap. I wiped a tear away as I read about Deaf Donald:

And then I closed the book. As I stood to return it to the shelf, the slip of paper that had been hiding between the pages fell from my lap to the floor. Curious, I picked it up. And found a carefully preserved, slightly wrinkly artifact from my childhood that stunned me.

It was a ticket stub from the one-and-only New Kids on the Block concert I’ve ever attended, way back in 1990. I was 9 years old, and I still remember the way my stomach lurched when the house lights went down. I can close my eyes and hear the roar of the teenage crowd as the group took the stage. I remember dancing in the aisles with my little brother, waving our homemade signs around with certainty that they’d be seen. I even remember catching a glance of my parents, smiling and singing along with the music that became the soundtrack for my childhood. It wasn’t just a concert, it wasn’t just about the boys in ripped jeans.  It was a life experience. And it’s one of those memories that I’ll always cherish.
As I held the ticket stub in my hand, I wondered how it had wound up hidden between the pages of a book that was given to me at my high school graduation. I trailed my finger along its battered edges, reading every letter of print, marveling that such an insignificant little thing as a used ticket stub could hold so much meaning. I slipped it back between the pages of Silverstein, marking the page for Deaf Donald, and cradled the book in my arms as I took it back to the book shelf in my bedroom. And knew that each time I passed that book on my way to bed each night, at least for a little while, I would smile with the knowledge that it was there, hidden among the words that had inspired me for much of my life.
And suddenly, a blog was born.