Tonight we were sitting on the lanai (back patio) eating our first real meal in the new house. (The previous meals didn’t count, because hamburgers.)
I looked out at the setting sun, the plate of pasta and meatballs in front of me and remarked: “It isn’t really dinner until the sheepdog empties his tanks while you are eating.” Chewy had wandered to the end of his leash about 20 feet away and let it go. Such is the outdoor life.
I now fully realize just how out of shape I’ve gotten during the lockdown. We’re on day 9 since the boxes arrived and have easily 2/3 unloaded and properly stored. The remaining ones are going to be easy, since they contain my office/recording stuff. But given the 5-8 hour days we’ve spent unpacking, sorting, cleaning, and shelving the various stuff it’s clear it’s hard work. I’ve never taken so much industrial strength acetaminophen in my life.
After the first 4 days it was clear we’d die if we kept up the pace. So now we work like serfs one day, and the next run around getting licenses, fire extinguishers, donating stuff we should have left in Minnesota and eating at Waffle House.
This morning I had to set my alarm – which I now hate since I’m retired – and get up to make a call at 0730. I hurt so bad from yesterday’s scrub-a-thon that I could barely make it to the kitchen. Once the call was over I went back to bed for 2 hours. Chewy protested and came into the bedroom to grumble. I love him in spite of this.
Now, the real reason I’m writing this blog today: the stuff you find when you unpack.
During the course of our lives together, my wife and I have moved several times. Each time we did a pretty good job opening each box and seeing what was inside. Sometimes they were put in the attic “until” and forgotten. But always opened.
One such box was full of belt buckles and Zippo lighters from the ships I was on. My rule was that I had to actually set foot on the ship, then I’d get a cap, a coffee cup, a belt buckle, and a Zippo. Patches were a bonus, but rare. In the 80’s military world, people would trade Zippo’s with locals for drinks and food on occasion – or a spiffy Carabinieri hat.
Thus the profusion of those items. I also found letters from home. I am saving those to savor – they arrived while I was deployed. Special moments.
You also, when you scrub every flat surface that comes into the house, find some cool things:
That sticker, found on the underside of a shelving unit that has followed us in our moves from Spain, was from the U.S.S. Pargo. The Pargo has a special place in my heart, as I made two trips on her and got a couple of great sea stories due to her horrendous food. The only sub I ever rode that had bad food. But hey, she’s been razor blades since 1996. As have all my ships.
As I emptied each box and evaluated how important the contents really were, I had some serious time for reflection. The things that seemed very important in 1998 were now trivial. The life events of 1988 were bigger than life after all of these years, and none of those memories got thrown out. Things wear out, are unimportant. Events, memories, people are what sustain you in life.
My wife and I are taking the day off today, but tomorrow we finish the garage and tackle the great room boxes. Just a few more days and we’ll be done. The exception is the incredible volume of yarn: we have to build some more shelving racks for that stuff.
I hope your memories are not kept in a box for years and lost when you die. Get them out and cherish them today. If you send me a comment on the blog, there might even be a cherished Zippo for you. I have a few extras.