A torn ticket stub. It’s yellow and has a tear down the middle, stopping short of the only black text on there which says ‘admit one’. At first glance, it seems indistinguishable from the rest of the seemingly random and yet useless paper products that seem to inhabit my room which have only been unearthed whilst packing. Old newspapers, always weekend editions, that were kept with the intention of one day being read in their entirety and not just the travel inserts. Receipts, quite often for values less than a pound, also seem to be a mainstay as they were never thrown away with the thinking that no doubt they will be integral to my future financial security, when I one day get round to sorting it. And of course, this torn ticket stub.
Welcome to the world of my room or more specifically, my room whilst packing. I’m about to travel to the other side of the world to embark on an exciting, yet scary, new career as a Teacher of English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) in Cambodia. I leave in little under 3 weeks and have quite a lot to do. My room which I predicited would take a mere few hours to tidy and sort has, in fact, taken a few days, and I still do not have the end in sight. However, despite the stress involved it has, in many ways, been a major relief to start packing my room up for many reasons:
It means it’s all becoming real, that in a few weeks I will really will be on the most tremendous adventure of my life and every time I think about it a big bubble of excitement rises up my centre. Also, it is always good to have a big purge and there is a genuine cleansing feeling that comes with seeing the bin bags pile up. And let’s not forget that it is also comforting to be able to actually see my carpet and know that each time I go to bed, I’m not running a gauntlet that my life will be ended by tripping on a pair of two sizes too small ripped trousers and cracking my head on the wardrobe door that won’t close due to the overflow of the contents within. I can say this with all honesty, I am amazed that after all this time, I haven’t at the very least broken a bone.
Nonetheless, packing my room is taking a lot longer than planned and it’s all due to that damned ticket stub. And the newspapers. And the receipts. I know I should just throw them away and be done, but it’s so hard. These are not just ticket stubs, newspapers and receipts. These are memories, and very fond ones at that.
This particular newspaper is from a few months ago when me and Chris spent a weekend in Betws-y-coed. It had rained so hard that the roads flooded, so there was little else to do but sit in a pub and read the paper. This may not have been the best trip we’ve ever been on, but to me it was great. We had good food and good beer, and best of all, we had each other.
One receipt is from Chester Zoo which we went to in April 2009. It was an amazing day, we laughed at the monkeys, cooed at the baby Elephant and acted like big kids on the swings. Perhaps a standard day for many people, but I will always think of it and smile.
And the torn ticket stub. Although it has very little information on the ticket, I knew immediately when and where it’s from. We had spent the day in Redcar, a lovely, but suffering from a sense of faded glory, seaside town in the North East. It was sunny, and the wind was strong which I think is a perfect combination for the coast. We played in the amusements and won a ball in the cup toy, we ate fish and chips from what is reputedly the oldest fish and chip shop in the world and finished this all off with lemon top ice-cream, which seems to be native to Redcar. Then we went to the cinema. And I don’t mean a 14-screen, run of the mill multiplex thing. I mean a cinema, a glorious art-deco cinema. It had one screen and showed 3 films a day at set times. It had only 2 members of staff working who were incredibly enthusiastic about film and cinema. We handed over our money and received in return two yellow tickets which was purposefully torn by the attendant. I pocketed the tickets and we made our way in. A fantastic end to a fantastic day.
The day in Redcar was amazing, but it was always marred by a strange sense of finality for me and Chris. We had gone at the end of April this year, my travel plans already well under way. We knew we had to make the most of it because all too soon, days like these would be over for us. And now in what seems to be within the blink of an eye, that time is upon us.
I had never planned on keeping the ticket stub or the newspapers or the receipts and had they have been previously thrown away without my knowledge, then I would probably not have missed them, but they weren’t. Now they’re still here, creating a dilemma for me. On the one hand, I need to clear and get rid of as much stuff as possible so that I can start my new life abroad, but on the other hand, if I am to throw these away i’m scared i’m throwing away a part, a very important part, of my life. Perhaps for now, i’ll leave them in the ‘to keep’ pile and hope that one day I will sort through it.
And so, as an archeologist must sift through the sands of time to unearth the past, I must continue to pack my room. Maybe, just maybe, somewhere in the depths, in the stratum of mess that is my room, perhaps I will dig up more treasures like this torn ticket stub.