A bunch of boxes have sat patiently in the front hallway since we moved. They’re all the things Mo decided to throw out as we try to streamline our belongings a bit. Mo is not a good streamliner.
The problem is, it’s all fantastic stuff. Stuff that we haven’t used in six years, mind you, stuff that we would never even realize was gone if we gave it away. And I guess that’s the point. Lose it and what’s the harm?
I asked her if I should load it up and take it to Goodwill. She said yes, but she couldn’t do it. Too painful. I hated that it was difficult for her, but these things have to be done. I picked up one of the boxes.
But then I saw it. Peeking out of the box was a bottle opener. Not just ANY bottle opener, but THE BOTTLE OPENER I BOUGHT AT BIG BEND THE WEEK IT WAS POURING RAIN.
I had gone there alone for the Dreamboat Annie Redux Tour, a week of hiking and camping and playing Heart at spectacular volumes while driving through the endless desert vista. I had bought a six-pack of beer at the little store next to the campground up in the mountains, only to realize I had no bottle opener. Luckily, the store was stocked in that let’s sell pretend outdoors stuff to the tourists sort of way. It was a handsome wood handle metal opener, a beauty of function and architecture. The more beers I opened, the more I loved it. We bonded in a way that only happens on a rainy night huddling in a tent wondering why the hell again am i doing this.
I carried it in my glove compartment for a while before it finally made its way into the drawer in the kitchen where that sort of thing goes. Mo, not realizing the significance, had tossed it into the island of misfit toys box as we packed to move, reasoning that we only needed one bottle opener, and this was not the one we needed.
I pulled it out, put it back in the drawer and explained the inspirational tale to Mo, who pretended to listen even though I detected faint snoring noises halfway through my story. It’s not just a thing, I told her, it’s a memory.
And then I looked further into the box. The little dog on the wooden box. The wooden spoon collection. The cat blanket. All stuff that is totally expendable, and absolutely wonderful. It will just take up space till we die, and then someone will have to toss it out.
So what choice did I have? I picked up the first box and took it away. To the spare bedroom. And then the rest of them followed me there.
Because you never know when you’ll need a wooden spoon. Or a cat blanket. Or a smile from a memory of our lives together. They’ll be right there in the next room.
I guess someday they’ll go away. So will we. But not today.
I hope they bury me with my wooden bottle opener …