Building Blocks (‘Shangri-La’ Memories)

We each have magical ‘Shangri-La’ memories; be it from actually visiting, or from dreams enhanced by television and movies.  In time, the ‘Shangri-La’ you remember may become ‘society history’ due to physical changes/destruction, or loss of social awareness.  How well do your readers from different generations understand the significance/impact of a ‘Shangri-La’ associated with a character’s words or actions?

To the generations of my parents and myself, the name Tiffany, and their iconic blue box, defined jewelry elegance.  Thus, it is no wonder why the 1961 movie title Breakfast at Tiffany, instantaneously conveyed sophistication.  I still remember standing in front of the flagship Fifth Avenue store in 1967, and, even though Audrey Hepburn was not standing next to me, I knew I was at a cultural ‘Shangri-La’.  However, thanks to their store locations now around the world and online shopping, while younger generations may still recognize Tiffany quality, the iconic blue box and the Fifth Avenue location appear to be losing their ‘Shangri-La-ness’.  The other day I mentioned the blue box to a 36 year-old, in reference to his six year old daughter’s future eighteenth birthday.  His response was, ‘will she even know the significance of the blue box.’  Thus, do younger readers of Through a Stranger’s Eyes understand the significance of:


“A little something for you; that is, if you want it,” and I pulled out of my   pocket a small Blue Box from Tiffany.  When I opened the box, and Breen saw the channel-set, full circle band of baguette diamonds she covered her mouth with both hands and stopped breathing.


In 1955, Disneyland opened in Anaheim, California.  Back in Baltimore, most kids only dreamed of going there; as this ‘Shangri-La’ was not just too far away, but way too expensive!  When I finally went to Disneyland as an adult fifty years later, I had to disregard far too many comments such as, “why go…Disney World is much nicer”.  To this day, the magic of passing through the gates into the Magic Kingdom is a ‘Shangri-La’ memory.  A small Mickey Mouse paper head cutout souvenir from the Main Street parade is on my refrigerator; and the wonderfulness of that moment lives.

‘Shangri-La’ memories do not have to be of ‘worldly known’ places.  As I wrote in the 2015 Building Block Enchanted Memories:

About five years ago, I was driving on US Route 40 near Ellicott City, Maryland, and I stopped at the Double-T-Dinner to eat.  Looking across the highway I saw a familiar site from my childhood, the castle from the long closed Enchanted Forest…The Park closed in 1989.  In 1992 the Enchanted Forest Shopping Center opened on more than half the land, and the park’s white castle entrance still stands in one corner.

What are the ‘Shangri-La’ memories from your life?

Think about your ‘building blocks’; we can not write without them.

Through a Stranger’s Eyes © Steven S. Walsky, 2005.


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