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When I turned sixteen, my grandparents took me out to the lavish Sixteen restaurant in Chicago. “Sixteen for sixteen,” they said. Over microscopic spoonfuls of diced cucumbers, which the restaurant dubbed "a salad," my Grandma handed me a velvety grey box lined with gold. I opened the box with the same finesse and caution one applies to handling a freshly fallen autumn leaf, because I already knew what was inside. When my older sister, Sedona, turned sixteen just two years earlier, my itinerant grandparents gave her a charm bracelet; however, this was no ordinary chain of metal, but a record of her life, the charms marking her own travels and adventures.

Inside my box was a gold chain, decorated with my own memories.

A trolley car came first, reminding me of the trip my family took to London when I was five. I remember the London Eye, the startlingly realistic figures at Madame Tussaud's, and the strange affection I developed for English accents, an oddity that still holds to this day.

Next came a golden camel, a souvenir from my thirteenth birthday trip to Jordan. In a pleasant surprise, I had found that I adored Jordan, from the ruins of Petra in their stony grandeur to the salty waters of the Dead Sea: there was a regal...

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