There are certain things that carry special meaning to us. I'm sure pretty much everyone brings something back from their vacations and trips, something to remember those events by. While it makes sense to bring something back, I never really understood the value of souvenirs that people bring for other people from their trips. I always felt like bringing people gifts from my trips was useless - those trips are my experiences and those gifts are my reminders of the good times; they would mean something to me, but to others they would mean absolutely nothing.
This concept changes, though, when we talk about the gifts or souvenirs picked out specifically for us by people we care about. When I went to Russia last time, I met up with one of my mom's closest friends, Olga. Olga has always been a good friend of our family and a role model to me. On the day we met up, we had a nice lunch, caught up about everything that was going on in our lives, and then went for a walk along Krasnaya Street, the main street of my home city in Russia. Trying to escape the cold (it was October, but the weather was very cold that day), we stopped by a little boutique that was selling nice, expensive clothes. Before I went on this trip, I made a rule for myself not to buy any clothes in Russia, since their prices on clothes are absolutely ridiculous. And here we were - me and Olga, me trying not to look at the items and their prices, and Olga trying to convince me to try something on so she could buy it for me. "I just want you to bring something back with you, something that will remind you of me and of your trip to Russia." It was mostly silly at the moment, and we were both laughing. Finally, I gave in and let Olga buy this highly overpriced (but very cute) sweater I am wearing here.
Today, I wore this sweater to work and every time I would catch my reflection in the mirror, it would remind me of that day, of that trip, of my overall life in Russia a few years ago. It makes me happy and it makes me sad - happy to recall the precious moments from my 'previous life', sad to realize that those moments can never be brought back. It's funny how little things like this have such power to bring back so many memories and so many mixed emotions. But at the end of the day, life goes on, people grow up, places change, and we have to adjust to all the new things that come into our lives. And if we ever want to be reminded of what it used to be like, we always have those gifts, those souvenirs.