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RUSSELL WANGERSKY: The inbox traveller

November sunset in Phoenix. —
November sunset in Phoenix. — Russell Wangersky/SaltWire Network

BevMo! reminded me about the Super Bowl this weekend.

And that reminded me of BevMo!

And so began a little cycle of memory as pleasant as finding an unexpected leftover bag of Halloween candy in the cupboard.

BevMo!’s the main liquor retailer in Arizona (in other states, too, but I went to a store in Phoenix), and as he rang in some strange beers and two bottles of wine, the clerk at the store pointed out I could have another bottle of wine for a nickel if I signed up for a BevMo! card.

I told him I was from Canada — he said that didn’t matter.

And because of that, BevMo! sends me special offers by email every couple of weeks or so. This past week, it was US$10 off any purchase of US$75 or more — and this week’s special includes tallboys of New Belgium Voodoo Ranger IPA for $2.99, or Shadow Puppet Brewing’s Lush Nectar Hazy IPA at $14 for four.

The offers are no good to me, but every time I get one, I have short little flash of memory, the kind of thing that might be set off by an uncommon smell or a strange trick of light, and I get flung all the way back to a working trip in Arizona and Nevada last fall.

To the daytime heat and sweat-sucking dryness of the place, the need to be aware of scorpions, the sheer number of empanadas you want to eat because they are just so damned fine…

Today runs into tomorrow, and tomorrow into the next day, and often I feel like I’m checking things off the top of my list while twice as many new things are getting added endlessly to the bottom.

It’s not just BevMo! either — it’s also the Walker House in Mineral Point, Wisconsin. The Walker is located in one of the oldest buildings in Mineral Point, and I asked them by email whether they might have information on an older lodging house that had once stood in the town. They had no information to tell me, but I got added to their mailing list, and now, when they update me on the progress of their hotel-wide storm window project or the health of Dan’s wonky knee, I get to remember that town, the way it was settled down into a shallow valley — and with it, the rest of a different research trip, a trip of a lifetime, in 2016.

The Skyline Hotel in Henderson, Nevada likes to get in touch occasionally; so do a couple of others. You’d think it was spam, these email offers and newsletters that I can’t really do anything with and never get around to stopping, but they’ve become remarkably valuable to me.

In the run of a week, I get focused on the task at hand — the pieces that need to be written, the errands that have to be run, the latest snow that has to be shovelled.

Today runs into tomorrow, and tomorrow into the next day, and often I feel like I’m checking things off the top of my list while twice as many new things are getting added endlessly to the bottom. “If I can just get through this week…” is not much of a mantra for life, is it?

I welcome going to bed, the end of work, the chance to stop.

And then sometimes I get an email.

There’s not much in the average week that suddenly reminds you of the feeling of cactus fruit in the palm of your hand, holding the red fruit gently so that the spines don’t pierce your skin, while all the while, the garish yet threatening fruit is still attached to the main body of the cactus. Or meeting a young quail, with that ridiculous bauble dangling off the top of its head, at the foot of a desert trail, the bird seemingly too stupid to manage the basics of getting out of the way of cars backing out of parking spaces.

It’s nice to be derailed all at once from the right here and the imperative now, and instead remember jostling and sliding the car 100 miles down the dirt and dust of the Jungo Road in Nevada, 110 miles of fingers gripping the dashboard, stopping near Sulphur for a break while the car pings in the heat and the sun staggers downwards, and you hope you can get to pavement before it’s all at once dark.

Hello, BevMo!

Thanks for the break.

Russell Wangersky’s column appears in SaltWire publications across Atlantic Canada. He can be reached at russell.wangersky@thetelegram.com — Twitter: @wangersky


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