Despite their charms, I was never really tempted to buy any maps or glass. Out of all the key chains, paperweights, snow globes, lobster neckties, tri-corner hats, shiny pencils, sticker books, and signs of the undead at the stores, there was just one item that called to me. In a bottom shelf behind the candy at the Constitution store, I found a bin of little black plastic fake cameras. When I looked through the viewfinder and pushed the button, I could see blurry, garish prints of Trinity Church, Faneuil Hall, and Fenway Park. The cameras were cheap and flimsy and would break in a matter of hours — but they looked like every souvenir I ever bought as a child, like the strange old abandoned toys you find under the bed when you finally move all your things out of your old room after you leave home. My childhood room flooded years ago, and all my keepsakes are gone forever. There are some memories you just can’t buy.

Meg Muckenhoupt lives in a house decorated entirely with rocks and bits of string. She can be reached at

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