Natespeak: Behind every snow globe, there's a story

My girlfriend started collecting snow globes while she was in college. She bought the first one during her semester abroad in Ireland.

The semester, as she explained to her parents, was to broaden her mind in different genres of art, her major. I have yet to know anyone who can name me a famous Irish artist, and I don't believe the Irish could either. This is probably the reason the snow globe she bought is a street scene; both sides displaying little buildings with the words "pub" or "tavern" above the door. This is also probably the reason she only has drinking stories to tell when she gets on the subject of Ireland or living abroad and she never mentions art galleries or museums. I can't blame her; I can name plenty of Irish drunks, most of whom are famous writers.

The second snow globe she purchased while on a week "holiday" (she uses words like "holiday" instead of "vacation," and "pint" instead of "glass" when she talks about Europe) in Spain. It isn't so much a snow globe as it is a snow pyramid. And to even say snow is a lie, the snow is replaced with silver glitter. Inside this glitter pyramid is a matador posed in a tight blue ensemble with golden buttons. He's waving a red cape in front of a black plastic bull that's charging fiercely despite being lanced in the side with a large saber. I'm not sure if "lance" is the right verb to use, but it seems more European than "stabbed" or "knifed." Saber might not be the right name for the weapon, but to me a saber sounds dangerous and could kill wild animals and this was definitely a wild animal in the glitter pyramid. A wild plastic black bull with a red splotch of red paint on his side I'm assuming was intended to be blood.

If I were to take time to list all the snow globes my girlfriend has collected I might find that there's an interesting story behind each one. I might learn what she did during her trip to St. Louis. She'd tell me details about taking a tour of the Budweiser plant and seeing the famous Clydesdale horses as I shook the water-filled paperweight of fake snow over the plastic silver Arch. I'd laugh at the snow globe of New Mexico that was nothing more than a globe of real sagebrush and sand, no water. I'd politely ask about the Iowa snow globe, the one depicting a tornado and a red barn tipped on its side, but I'd be more curious to know the story behind the Las Vegas snow globe. What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas, but did the wintery and wet world of the New York, New York Casino and Hotel have anything to say that might concern me?

The more snow globes I found, the more curious I became of my girlfriend's past. The more curious I became of her past, the more jealous I became. The more jealous I became, the more I wanted to alleviate myself of those nauseating feelings that excluded me and start fresh. I wanted to go out and replace the souvenir of miniature floating polka dot bikinis of Ft. Lauderdale and Houston's NASA Space Shuttle with fiery red and orange confetti with something bigger and better. Every time we went out I sought out new memories in shapes of half spheres each filled with cold tap water, it didn't matter we rarely traveled further than 100 miles away from our town in the middle of Arizona.

In Camp Verde, the snow globe was a Cliffside dwelling made of adobe similar to Montezuma Castle National Park as seen in late November. The only thing different was a series of white ladders leaning from the roof of the first story onto the side of the second. Sinagua Indians didn't have ability to make ladders like these, not so smooth and white. Compared to the real structure, and models of what it might have looked like during the years it was occupied, it became obvious the snow globe designer was trying to pull a fast one. The more I examined the globe it looked as if the ladders were stolen from a dollhouse and had been cut in halves. Regardless, my girlfriend accepted the token of appreciation for our weekend stay in a bed and breakfast, eight miles from her house.

The next weekend, against my better judgment, I took my girlfriend on another trip. We traveled to Jerome, a short ways beyond Camp Verde. There, I found a globe with a miniature brothel covered in a light texture of red glitter. Held against the sunlight it made sense why "Red Light District," was embossed on its base. Aside from the tiny panty hose and negligees hanging out little carved windows with the shades pulled halfway down, the globe looked more like a scene from the Apocalypse. Again, she appreciated the gift, but recommended we discuss vacation plans. No more spontaneous trips. Not that she didn't love the time away, she said, sliding the souvenir into its generic brown paper bag.

After the trip to Jerome, and after presenting to her only two snow globes which I had yet to see displayed in her home, I was told I should take some time for myself. I needed "guy time" she said. If anything, she needed "gal time," she added. I thought it was a perfect opportunity to show my commitment, at the same time write myself a prescription for what I thought could rid myself of the nausea, at least the jealousy that caused the nausea.

I put nearly 1,000 miles on my car that weekend. I cruised east to Strawberry, Pine, Payson, and north to Winslow. I went west along Interstate 40 into Flagstaff, Williams, and the Grand Canyon. I napped in my car between truck stops and rest areas then headed back down Interstate 17 to Scenic Highway 89A through Oak Creek Canyon into Sedona then Cornville, Cottonwood, Clarkdale and sped down to Phoenix and back. Sunday evening, anxious to fill my girlfriend's life with my own, I arrived at her doorstep, four plastic bags in hand each carrying seven snow globes wrapped in small boxes.

When she explained to me it was over, I felt like arguing Einstein's Theory of Relativity. "Nate, relationships need time." "Time is relative, baby. These new snow globes ... yes, they're my experiences, but now, since we are one, they are our experiences."

Somewhere between the time after I convinced her not to call the police and she threw me out of the house my girl ... my ex-girlfriend allowed me time to wipe the tears from my face and regain my composure. It was there in her bathroom I realized what life was all about. Sitting on the toilet seat sniffing into a wad of Kleenex I stared into the glitter pyramid home of the little blue matador. Cape in hand, twisting his body to avoid a deadly blow by a skewered bull, the matador stared back. The water line rested above his lips, below his nose; alive, but only just. It was then I realized I need not worry about anyone but myself. I should take pride in taking the bull by the horns, but it was time to either sink or swim and all I needed to do was lift my head up.

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