I have a pair of scissors I bought in Toledo, Spain in 1984. Everyone knows the connection between Toledo and El Greco, but the city was also once famous for its swords. I could neither afford, nor did I want a sword, but I most definitely wanted a keepsake that would capture their essence. Every tourist shop was filled with swords and knives, and cutlery characterized by the basic inlay of gold or silver known as damascene ware. The design was different from anything I saw back home, and after much thought, I decided a pair of scissors would be the perfect souvenir. Not only pretty and unique, but functional. They were packaged in a black velvet pouch. The pouch is long since lost, but I always know where those scissors are because they define a moment in time.
I was 26. I had met a friend in Lisbon. My traveler’s checks, totally $1500, were stolen the day after I arrived. So we started out with a morning at the American Express office, but quickly got back on track and headed out to the beach in Cascais, and up to the medieval village of Obidos, and back down, and across, to Spain. En route to Marbella, I got a speeding ticket. It was ridiculous, not the ticket, but me driving since I didn’t know how to maneuver a shift. Once I got into fourth gear, I stayed there because it was comfortable, and easier, than downshifting to third. We paid the fine, and drove into Sevilla. From there, we circled Andalusia hitting Granada to see the Alhambra and the Cathedral in Cordoba. We drank sherry in Jerez de la Frontera, saw the aqueducts and a bullfight in Ronda, and moved north to Toledo, where I bought the scissors. In Madrid, our last stop, I lost my camera, but had absolutely no problem boarding the plane with a pair of scissors in my bag.
So whenever I use those scissors I am reminded of the girl and the world of 30 years ago. I was somewhat fearless and mighty trusting, because although my money was stolen, and I was stopped by a Portuguese policeman, the world seemed like a safe place. I think back and so many things were different. I always went to the post office to buy stamps because the best way to communicate was through post cards. Overseas phone calls were prohibitively expensive, and you had to find a place that had international telephone service. I was able to afford a three- week trip not just because everything was cheaper, but because I could sleep in a lumpy bed in a hostel, and didn’t give a thought to group showers with a bunch of other kids. Even losing my camera was not devastating, because I used film. The camera was gone, but not the 12 rolls of film documenting every adventure before Madrid.
Fade back to 2013. Needless to say those scissors have became dull after 30 years of use. One night, Steve was sharpening knives, so I asked if he could hone the scissors as well. Who knew a knife sharpener is the death knell of a scissor blade? They no longer cut, and I am in the middle of researching scissor sharpeners, because I can never give them up.