Memories from a Sales Slip

July 14, 2002

Welcome to Wyndspirit Dreams! This week I am going to do something a little different. I am working my way through a creative writing book that has some of the most intriguing essay exercises. Itís called Everyday Creative Writing: Panning for Gold in the Kitchen Sink, by Michael C. Smith and Suzanne Greenberg, and, yes, it is as much fun as the title makes it sound. The essay in question was about "paper trails," the stories that can be told by receipts and sale slips. Anybody who knows me well knows that I save pretty much any scrap of record that crosses my path, so this exercise was particularly intimidating to me. I had no clue where to begin, until I came home from Wal-Mart about a week before our family reunion, trying to figure out how on earth Iíd managed to spend $100 when it seemed like I hadnít bought that much. With the reunion almost upon me, I tucked the receipt into my essay notebook and pretty much forgot it there, till I was idle at work Saturday night and decided to tackle that essay. As I looked over the receipt, I could see that it was all reunion-related, and just reading over the receipt let me relive our wonderful reunion. So, I thought Iíd share the essay with you all, and, even if you werenít at our family reunion, maybe it will bring back memories of a happy gathering you attended. That said, the title sums it upÖ

How I Spent $100 in Wal-Mart, or, Anticipation, or, Going Nuts

One week before the family reunion we were hosting in a city 250 miles away, panic hit. And I made the "Please-God-donít-let-me-forget-anything-this-has-to-be-perfect!!!" final trip to Wal-Mart. I thought I already had most everything. How did I ever spend $100?

Item: One-hour developing for two films, double prints. I needed all my latest pictures for Mom to choose from for the family book she always makes for our family reunions to bring everybody up-to-date on us all. She may have even used one or two of themóI donít remember.

Items: Five-pack tab dividers, three-hole punch that fits in a ring binder. I spent so many hours on my elaborate guest book complete with old photos and comment pages, definitely a labor of love. And it seemed to be a hit, even if I didnít need the punch to make more pages on location. (I wanted a new three-hole punch anyway!)

Items: Fritos, Cheetos, crackers. Munchies for on the road, coming and going. We ate half a bag of Cheetos on the way up, leftover chips from the reunion on the way home, and rock hard strawberry Twizzlers both ways. (The effort of chewing them kept me awake!)

Items: Eight two-liter bottles of soda. I have to have my Diet Dr. Pepper or Diet Lemon Coke in my hand or I go into withdrawal! (Whether Iím actually drinking it or not.) Never mind that there are two grocery stores in the town where the reunion was being held, I could get it cheaper at Wal-Mart. (It actually was on sale at one of the grocery stores for less!) I think I ended up bringing four bottles back home with meóI mostly drank water.

Item: Aquafina six-pack. Water bottles to refill. You can never have enough water in a park in 100 degree temps! I refilled them daily.

Items: Two freeze bottles, beverage containers with freezable cores. Used once, too much of a bother. A 16-oz. soda or water bottle in a foam can insulator works better. Sometimes simple really is best.

Item: Canvas tote. To bring crafts and books and writing stuff to the park. Has a nice zipper to keep everything clean. Carefully packed, and never opened. Too busy visiting!

Item: Off! Botanicals insect repellent. Couldnít have survived without it! But even swarms of mosquitoes couldnít put a damper on our fun.

Items: Photo album, refill pack, multi-pack of film. I took eight rolls of pictures and used up every last film I brought, including the disposable camera I got in a gift exchange at work Christmas before last. And most of the pictures came out gorgeous! (Current projectóreliving the memories while I scan and print them for others.)

Items: Iams cat food, Tidy Cat clumping litter. I had to make sure the cats were well-situated so I could enjoy myself.

And that, dear reader, is how I spent $100 in Wal-Mart the week before our family reunion. Was it worth it? You betóevery penny of it!

Wyndspirit Dreams