There are a number of things I brought home from the several years I lived in Europe after college.
Many of those are irrational in retrospect: an inexpensive, hand-held milk frother is available here, too, and though it didn’t break my suitcase, it’s exemplary of a certain category of object that collectively added plenty of weight.
One thing I’ve never regretted lugging with me is a pair of Austrian paper scissors. I don’t know who made them, but they were brushed steel and beautifully functional, and I could tell you exactly where they were up till last October. We didn’t lose them in the storm; they were in my office, which was on the second floor. Instead, we seem to have lost them during the move. As hastily as we packed (in a clammy, powerless house whose lower half was still dank with the sodden remains of our library), I’m quite sure I took the time to wrap them up and put them in a box.
At least, I think I’m sure. The boxes are long gone, but there’s still plenty of disorder in my new office, and I keep hoping I’ll find my scissors every time I launch another clean-up effort. Because they’re connected to so many things: the pride of a well-made tool, the pleasure of the shop where I bought them, which sold nothing but knives and scissors(!), craftsmanship, capitalism, Vienna.
I still think they must be here somewhere.