"You're like a serial killer," my friend told me. "You keep souvenirs."
The souvenir in question was fairly innocuous: a reflector from a bicycle. It wasn't the first thing I had nicked today, and today certainly wasn't the first time I had collected mementos from my exploits.
Atop one bookcase in my room sit a couple of branches collected in full autumnal splendor, now faded to brittle remnants of their glory. I nicked them on a hike with another friend, along with a sprig of a branch I meant to research. The shrub it came from was unlike any other I had ever seen: the bark was green and twirled around it was a fine strip of bark that stands out from the twig, mohawk-like; at the end were delicate vibrant orange berries.
The orange berry spring sits atop the bookcase in the living room, next to another souvenir: a pine branch with a couple cones, taken from the park down my street, salvaged carefully from the otherwise goose-contaminated ground.
Finally, the orange berry twig and pine sprig were joined by my latest souvenir. No, not the bicycle reflector. I'm not even sure why I kept it and may toss it at some point. The only reason I picked it up was because I brought a bag along to pick up litter (finds there included a double cheesburger wrapper, a container from nightcrawlers, part of a cup, a piece of cushioning for packages, a piece of cardboard, an empty airplane-sized vodka bottle, an abandoned tube of chap-stick, and several remnants of plastic bags) and I first assumed it to be trash. The souvenir now atop the bookcase is another branch, a delicate sprig containing nothing but a handful of tiny fuschia berries. I tucked it in the clasp of my coat so I could have my hands free to mess with my camera and would leave it there if I weren't afraid of losing or abusing it in my day-to-day activities.
I guess I do have a record of taking things from places I've been. For a long time, I had a pinecone sitting on yet another bookshelf, which I finally gave to a friend who appreciated it. I can't go to a beach without taking any shells I can find, and if there are no shells, I usually fill my pockets with sand-smoothed stones. I'm not even safe to take to a playground; there are usually interesting rocks there, too. And I'd steal from my own grandmother; I have half a geode from the small patch of dirt outside her condo.
I thought those tendencies were indications of mild kleptomania, but I guess it's just my serial killer tendencies coming to light. Yep, I'm just your average camera-toting, tree-hugging serial killer. I even take pictures of the scenes and keep them to look over at my leisure.