I married an archeologist, so it should be no wonder that cleaning up our house is somewhat akin to the excavation of the tomb of Tutankhamen, with the exception that these are remnants of 20th century culture we're discovering.
"Honey, just how many Walkmans did you own?" I ask, picking out two of them from a cardboard box at the back of a closet.
"I kept breaking them," he says.
"You got the sport model," I observe, noting the bright yellow plastic casing. I don't ask why he didn't discard them. Archeologists don't discard anything; they leave them to be catalogued, tagged and stored, even if there are just pieces remaining.
"They were supposed to be stronger," he says.
"Can I turn this into a rag?" I ask, holding up a small t-shirt from B.R.A.N. 7 (the Bike Ride Across Nebraska in 1987). It's a size to fit a 10-year-old and it's full of holes.
He gives me a pained expression, the one that asks, How could you possibly think I would even consider it when it cost me a week of hard riding? I fold the shirt reverently and add it to a neat stack on the top shelf with his t-shirts from other bike rides. He doesn't wear them (they wouldn't fit any more anyway). They are trophies of a different place and time.
We were able to agree on some things to go into a garage sale: Some old lithographs that had belonged to his parents that he'd never much cared for in the first place, a dusty grey fedora that had been his father's, the bamboo torches (the kind that use lamp oil) we'd received as a gift 15 years ago but never used. I'll be putting in some skeins of yarn, an old punch bowl, some stuffed animals, and other craft items. There have enough to hold a nice garage sale and maybe we'll make enough to buy a textbook or two.
I'm embarrassed a bit to think how bent out of shape I got yesterday about money and costs and fancy dinners and absent fairy godmothers. As I go through the house and learn that we're well enough off to be able to get rid of some things, I know that I have nothing to complain about. We're making it; we will survive.
Considering my mother is near enough to death's door that she doesn't have to shout for God to hear her (and I tell her to remind Him that she'll be there soon enough to give Him what-for if He doesn't get off His heavenly arse to answer her prayers), it's nice to know she's praying for us every day.
Yep, I think we're going to make it through this.