We bought it on our honeymoon. On the eve of our 30th anniversary, we threw it away.

Posted 7/3/20

“Move,” as my pal Jock Lauterer reminded me recently, is a four-letter word.

We just finished with one. I’m using the word “finished” very loosely because, as you no doubt have …

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We bought it on our honeymoon. On the eve of our 30th anniversary, we threw it away.

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“Move,” as my pal Jock Lauterer reminded me recently, is a four-letter word.

We just finished with one. I’m using the word “finished” very loosely because, as you no doubt have experienced, truly finishing a move is like fully finishing a jar of peanut butter. Some determined souls, with the proper cutlery, can do it; most of us mortals call the job “done” even when there’s still peanut butter residue in the tossed-away jar.

For my wife Lee Ann and me, it’s our second move in three years. This one was much easier than the last, but still tough: the mind-numbing and back-breaking prospect of dealing with and moving the big stuff. Decisions. Packing. Details. The heat. Where’s my phone charger? Endless cleaning. Arranging and coordinating.

I still can’t locate a recently-purchased pair of dress shoes or my Fitbit charger, but like a few other elusive things, I know they’re here, somewhere, because the old house is totally empty.

This move was sudden — a house we absolutely loved came on the market, and it was a perfect fit for us — and God bless my wife, the timing meant she did the lion’s share of the work. I helped, and spent most of five straight Saturdays hauling boxes, but the suddenness of it put the moving burden on her. She pulled it off like a pro. We actually moved into the new house four weeks ago and put our old house, which we’d built three years ago, on the market last week, where it lasted (thankfully) only about 20 hours before we got a full-price offer.

With two moves in three years, we’ve gotten a little better at cutting ties with “things.” We haven’t gone full Marie Kondo yet — keeping only possessions that “spark joy” — but we’re trying.

In this move, though, we did part company with one item that sparked a lot of joy, as well as memories. We celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary Tuesday this week and on our honeymoon in the first week of July in 1990 we spent a week at a country inn in the mountains of Vermont. It was a wonderful and memorable time — among other things, we discovered Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and visited the site of the famous duo’s first ice cream shop, then worked off the calories canoeing down the Battenkill river, snapping photos of covered bridges and fly fishermen.

Somewhere along the way we thought it would be a good idea to acquire some souvenirs to remember our time there (including a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream “cook book,” which we still have); enough t-shirts and books and other trinkets that we had to, in fact, buy an extra piece of luggage.

We happened upon an Orvis outfitter store while there and picked up, after debating about the cost — we were young and poor — a nice “drop bottom” duffle bag. A similar Orvis bag goes for about $300 today, but if I recall this one was around $125 or $150, a small ransom back then, given you could pick up some similar-looking bag at a discount store for $30 or less. But it was obviously well made, and I convinced my bride we’d get a lot of use out of it. It was an investment, not an expenditure.

Over three decades, we indeed got our money’s worth. It was my go-to bag for years of traveling. It stood up to trips all over the country by plane and car, and after kids came along it eventually became the catch-all bag for jaunts with them to see grandparents, to the beach, to the mountains. It then transitioned to become a storage bag, making its home in either a garage or an attic, filled with important stuff we needed kept safe. Then it became home to things less important.

A couple of Saturdays ago, it showed up, empty, in one of those last-trip piles of things I was tasked to take from the old house to the new place, just two miles down the road. It was stained and scuffed up, but the strong fabric was mostly intact. It could have been useful with a really thorough cleaning, but it was clear its best days were behind it. Given that we were in a “get rid of” mode I made the suggestion we finally toss it away.

Reluctantly, Lee Ann agreed. Before putting it in a trash container, we took a picture of it for posterity.

Marie Kondo, in her “life-changing magic of tidying up” teaching, says to treasure what you have. We treasured that bag. But these days we treasure fewer tangible possessions and, as Marie would approve, we put more stock in what really sparks joy in our lives.

After 30 years together, Lee Ann and I sometimes feel a bit scuffed-up. But unlike the Orvis bag, despite wonderful memories, I think our best days are ahead of us.

The fabric of love is strong, and that’s one 30-year-old acquisition that we’ll never put aside.


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