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Travel memoir

catnav-scrapmoir-active-3Post #195 – Women’s Memoirs, ScrapMoir – Matilda Butler and Kendra Bonnett


Honorable Mention Winner Announced in Women’s Memoirs Contest – Gratitude is Evergreen Category

Gratitude isn’t just something we express at Thanksgiving, it is evergreen. Our Memoir Contest featuring Gratitude produced some wonderful stories showing just how evergreen this concept is. Today, Kendra and I continue with the publication of the final Honorable Mention in our Gratitude is Evergreen category.

Holly Senior is today’s winner with her story Redundancy Wreck To…?. Be sure to read it to learn about this meaning of “redundancy.”

Congratulations Holly on your award-winning story. Your light touch reveals a lot about you.

Redundancy* Wreck To …?

By Holly Senior

[*Redundancy, British usage, layoff]
 
What was I to do? Redundancy had ended what once promised to be a dream international marketing career with Britain’s most endeared retailer. Should I:
 
Option A: Run away with The Cotswold’s Clifford Circus in pursuit of perfecting my acrobatic party piece.

Option B: Sail the Seven Seas selling luxury lotions and potions onboard an Italian cruise ship.

Option C: Grab my Platinum card, in an attempt to alleviate my sense of worthlessness with yet another frivolous fix of self-indulgence, only to sober-up insolvent? 
 
I’d swallowed the bait, hook line and sinker, convincing myself a corporate career would be the sensible, sure thing. Now, having sunk my ambitious words of wanderlust, inscripted on my end of-school yearbook in avid response to: “Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?” caused me to wither, embarrassed.
 
I recall my inscription well: ‘Vanity Fair draped over one hand, cavorting, a blossom-infused Bellini in the other. Smouldering in St Bart’s, contemplating captivating content for magazine articles.’

In hindsight, I excused my conjured dreamy foresight proclaiming it was born out of simply not knowing what life would hand me. 

Now. No wiser. That same high school inquisition consumed me. Whilst, friends’ careers flourished, I felt disillusioned. Where was my destiny?
 
Desperate for someone to tell me what to do, I decided to consult Madam Zoya and her crystal ball. En route, my 1983 edition Mini collided with a black cat. Hands gripping the wheel, head bowed, filled with guilt-stricken sorrow, I panicked; curiosity had literally killed the cat – would a curse of seven years MORE bad luck now possess me?
 
Entering Madam Zoya’s garden grotto, a tranquil energy captures me and holds me spellbound, an eclectic array of paraphernalia greet me: crystal-embellished wind chimes glisten, ethnic dreamcatchers sway, a tape recorder and deck of Tarot cards sit atop a coffee stained white paper doily. She reveals my cards, the Hierophant, a Juggler and Wheel of Fortune that reveal my creativity has been stifled but destiny is at hand, heralding a journey of self-discovery.

Option B: Boats, oceans and the unknown were on the horizon.
 
I lay cushioned in my cabin window cove. I’m mesmerised by the gentle rocking of the waves, reflecting the first verse of a sunset. My chameleon-like eyes flitter indecisively, between my view and the page of my book. Spoilt by it all, I can’t decide which captures my attention more, a token to the amazement I now, never fail to feel from life’s freebies.

It’s two years since Madam Zoya’s prophecy. Having embarked on my maiden voyage six months later, on a luxury liner carrying 294 guests and 196 crew, the 74 countries marked by red pen on my wall atlas are testament to my new found international status.
 
The confined space of my 4 by 6 meter abode, which initially annoyed me, now relieves me, having cleared my life of clutter. The remaining treasured possessions are neatly arranged in a wardrobe and three drawers.

Similarly, my initial complaint that the crew galley food was bland and catered unfairly to an eastern palette with dishes like ‘Balut’ — a Filipino delicacy of boiled duck embryos eaten in the shell — has been replaced with an inventive appetite for mixing salad dressings using ingredients traded from provisions on the black market. A confirmation I’ve adapted to ship life and its unique code of conduct.
 
Even Captain Corsaro’s lecherous nature and well-rehearsed boast: “Corsaro is, Italian for pirate,” a symbolic reiteration of his power to have crew walk the plank if he so commanded, no longer fazes me. 
 
Next to me, sit ingredients for my still-to-be-written travel memoirs. Tentatively entitled Regazza dell’ Oceana, protruding pages are layered with various memorabilia: shabby shells, torn bus tickets and flattened flowers, each a cherished sentiment to where I’d been and lessons I’d learned.
 
Mounted photos recall mini-adventures: midnight speed-boating under Rialto Bridge with Captain Scaramouche, a local Venetian hero; escaping disciplinary action by hitchhiking back to the ship in Moorea at sun down; a close-encounter with a Columbian cartel-member moments before a violent brawl erupted; the time I was ripped off by an Italian grape merchant, only to be gifted a bunch by another or the time I was tricked by a Thai tuk-tuk driver, compromising my faith in human nature only to have it restored when a stranger returned my purse.

Coincidental karma? Maybe. Nevertheless I believe each experience to be a piece in the puzzle to realizing that it wasn’t until I was lost I could actually start to find myself. Finally, I’d become attuned to the world and less hurried to determine destiny. 
 
‘Meet you after watch,’ scrawled on a photo of human embrace, evokes fond recollections of a lover — an Engineering Officer nicknamed ‘GEEK’ for his ‘Gigantically, Extraordinary, Engineering, Knowledge’. He triggers a trail of thought: Deck 9 star-gazing, magazine cuttings covered the cabin’s industrial light-bulbs, romancing the mood, midnight galley feasts of fudge flavored ice cream, (‘strictly forbidden’). Passionate liaisons down with the engine, “worth a written warning if caught” we’d giggled. A treasure hunt around Sydney Opera house to find my treasure — a paua shell charm, A Valentine’s message “For you” carved in Bora Bora sands. But in the end, being Bulgarian, his nod meant “no” and shake meant “yes.” This minute cultural distinction caused incredulous confusion, symbolizing a deeper distance between us. Resolving to part, I took comfort in the lesson that by chasing the exotic I now appreciated the relative simplicity of romantic liaisons back home.   
 
Soulfully handling the clusters of charms around my neck, the sky performs a visual symphony composed of ribbons of violet furled with vast swathes of coral to gold.  

I glance down at my book, The Alchemist, where a story of dreams, signs and symbols is about to unfold. One line leaps up at me. “There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.”  Standing up, I turn the words in my mind while spraying Clinique’s Happy; a delicately citrussy, vanilla perfume, its tantalising aromas rousing a feeling of ‘deja vu’ unraveling a hidden truth within me.
 
That’s when I realise I’d always known where my destiny was. My dream could be traced to a conjured dreamy foresight captured in my high school yearbook. I wanted to write – but I feared failure.
 
So here I am, in Capri’s cute harbor, on Santorini’s sheer cliffs, by Korcula’s calming waters giving it a shot, writing.
 
There’s just one question to answer: Has my desire to travel become so embedded that ship life is now my personal Hotel California? I can check out any time I like, but can I ever leave?

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Memoir Book Review: Traveling with Pomegranates: A Mother-Daughter Story by Sue Monk Kidd and Ann Kidd Taylor

by Matilda ButlerJanuary 6, 2010
Memoir Book Review: Traveling with Pomegranates: A Mother-Daughter Story by Sue Monk Kidd and Ann Kidd Taylor

Book Rave: Janet Riehl reviews Sue Monk Kidd’s memoir, co-written with her daughter Ann Kidd Taylor. Explore how writing a memoir can work when two people are telling both their individual stories and their joint story.

Read the full article →
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