I felt a sudden surge of inspiration after publishing that last entry, and so I went out and immediately knocked another item off my list–and in the process fulfilled a lifelong dream of sorts. In Grade 4, collecting hockey cards supplanted marble-playing as mine and my friends’ favourite extracurricular activity. In 1990, Upper Deck released its first-ever set of hockey cards; all of us immediately clamoured for them, and visits to Gruen’s Variety at the corner of Churchill and James quickly became a weekly ritual for my mother and me. Towards the end of the hockey season, Upper Deck released a second, “extended” series which featured, among others, the highly sought-after joint Sergei Fedorov/Pavel Bure rookie card. (The next thing they shared was likely Anna Kournikova, but I digress–back to the story!) Once again, we were all desperate to acquire them. Some of us did: that summer, my friend Brian and my cousin Cameron both got the complete set for their birthdays. So when my own birthday rolled around I assumed I’d get it too…and was sorely disappointed when my present failed to yield the expected boon. Eventually, I got too cool outgrew my card collection, and other, “cooler” activities (like fantasizing about Michaela Kropachek) took over. I’ve actually still got a giant stash of cards somewhere in my house, but your guess is as good as mine as to where they’re being kept.
Fast-forward to today. I’ve been wallowing in nostalgia lately; Orhan Pamuk’s book about Istanbul, coupled with a treasure trove of pictures of the abandoned Candy Mountain, are the main culprits, although it should be obvious by now that I’m naturally given to these sorts of moods. Anyway: for whatever reason, after posting that last entry I went to eBay and started looking around for hockey cards. To my astonishment, I found the 1990/91 Upper Deck extended series for sale…for $5.99. After dropping a quick line to the seller to make sure the set was still wrapped, I bought it.
You’ve got to understand: I would have killed for these cards back in 1991. Today, acquiring them simply allows me to reconnect with my youth. Hockey cards are inherently nostalgic; they’re ostensibly collectibles, but what they really are is a means of conjuring up a specific time and place in our lives. For me, these cards will remind me of the summer of Grade 5, when we got our first dog, when I really learned how to golf and when I spent three-and-a-half weeks in England. It’s simple nostalgia, then–but that doesn’t make it any less meaningful.
Strike another from the list!