What do you carry and how are you keeping

Written in 31 pieces during her 31st year, this essay attempts to address a series of anxieties about place by collecting every ticket stub received by the author in 2015.

1

In 1995 my best friend’s dad showed me a picture frame full of his old stubs: Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, The Stones, The Who. So it was his idea really. He taught me to be embarrassed that my first ever was Boyzone. But he hadn’t been to a concert worth collecting in twenty years.

2

I’ve gathered it all rather than bow to any boomer peer pressure, and presented a memento map. ere’s a danger, though, that by keeping everything I’ll remember nothing. With no peaks or troughs memories are hole-shaped and I might have sacrificed significance.

3

This is 2015 totalled up in tickets. This is me in (spare) time. Just the physical though, that which can be reproduced. THere’s a whole swathe of other stuff , QR codes and e-things, digital data that I don’t know how to retrieve or record, that I choose to let fleet and agree to render meaningless.

4

I know it was mild, that I remember. 2015 seemed a steady ten degrees for all four seasons. But consistency does not reassure me; it may give me scurvy or drown me completely. In the graph of things I’m certain this year, with all its warming and cooling to meet in a middle, will be a turning point.

5

This was my eighth year in Scotland. I am here now, I think, rather than from somewhere else.

6

Except something like six people have asked me if I’m Australian in the last twelve months.

7

Have I caught a long vowel sound from somewhere? A high-rising terminal? Either Glasgow
doesn’t get me or my body’s trying to emigrate me and I’m losing links to past places.

8

Films about the end of the world have made me realise I probably won’t be around to help my English parents pass away. I’m too far away and the transport systems will be one of the first things to go.

9

This year I learned to run, Couch to 5K, because I need to believe I can outpace an
apocalypse.

10

In January my nail split like a broken zip, right at the centre of my left thumb. There is a ridge running down it from the distal edge straight through the plate to the lunula. Apparently I’ve damaged the nail bed and it’ll probably never heal. If this split finds my seams I imagine I’ll come apart completely.

11

In August I ate an oyster for the first time, raw with horseradish sauce. Which means nothing except that it happened during the year I tried to collect most things.

12

I spent this year working my first ever full-time job. I earned twenty-four thousand, nine hundred and fifty-eight pounds and seventy pence before tax. I think my student loan, along with everyone else’s, could cause the next financial crisis.

13

This year is not more real; I do not feel any less anxious about loss because I’m hoarding
rather than recycling. Instead I’m reminded of how little I left the house.

14

I didn’t meet anyone famous, despite really really wanting to. But that’s the same as every year. Except that time in 2008 when I served ex-footballer Robbie Fowler vodka-Red-Bulls all night at a private members club. He gave me twenty quid and said ‘if you look after me, I’ll look after you.’ It was one of my greatest ever employment achievements and a lasting legacy.

15

This year my brother had a second baby.

16

This year I let a mole hair grow and grow to prove the potency of my body.

17

That was a lie. My brother hasn’t had his baby yet; it’s due mid-December and I’m writing this on the 5th.

18

Diarizing with gig dates means making the most of what I chose, not what I did. I was ill for one of them but that doesn’t mean I didn’t experience it. I have the ticket.

19

This past has passed; I’ve put it there, rather than make it present, mythologized it without necessarily knowing it.

20

I collect and re/collect. Except that some of it I don’t remember at all. Some days are just a piece of paper. But maybe that’s enough to accept its passing.

21

I have the souvenirs to séance, to prove and produce a ghost of me. Although I’ve got two copies of some so I’m not sure which me it was.

22

Still it’s nice to know there’s a version of me rambling on about how transcendent the lighting was at that one show. It’s not something I’d necessarily say but I’ve no control of this person, she exists out-with my permission.

23

I’ve sieved shop receipts, statements, fares and fixtures. There are no messages for me or lessons from the past about better times and how to recreate them; just buying, selling and endless traveling back to where I feel a draw.

24

Besides, stubs are cool like book covers; they represent the best parts of me. Supposedly.

25

Collecting tickets is like the opposite of having children. What’s kept in your head the whole time is to be re-lived not enacted which is no life at all and no way to narrativise according to my brother. He says getting pregnant will give me purpose.

26

This is documented living to prove the point: I was here. I was.

27

What I have of 2015 is a rubbing rather than the real thing which is impossible to capture in all its in infinitely dull detail.

28

If I throw everything away now it’s been recorded is that part of me expunged? Is ton- er dust, soft like ash, enough evidence to dredge it all up?

29

Maybe the marks help materialise the memory; if I can feel it on my fingers I can make a moment physical again. But what is it Billy Joel says about the price you pay?

30

The year is waning, there’s not much time left to bear witness.

31

The Scots have a melancholy sense of midnight on the 31st. Hogmanay, at its heart, harbours a sense of what’s lost, and a fearfulness for any hardship to come. That’s why first-footers, the person soonest across the threshold of a house, should bring food, coal and be anything but Vikingly fair-of-face. Up here I am awfully bad luck so I’ll stay in until the 2nd, give 2016 a chance.

LauraTansley

About Laura Tansley

Laura Tansley's writing has appeared in Butcher's Dog, Cosmonaut's Avenue, Lighthouse, New Writing Scotland, PANK, The Rialto and is forthcoming in Stand, Tears in the Fence and Southword. She is also co-editor of the collection 'Writing Creative Non-Fiction: Determining the Form'. She lives and works in Glasgow.

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