Travel vs. Stuff

Les enjoying the Halibut Flats exhibit at the Oregon Coast Aquarium.
Les enjoying the Halibut Flats exhibit at the Oregon Coast Aquarium.

Monday was Les’s birthday – for his birthday he got a t-shirt, a tea towel, an ashtray, and a gift card for boots, all from his mother and sister. But I didn’t buy him anything. Instead we took a drive to the Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport and then we went out to dinner. For years now we’ve been going on trips together for our birthdays and anniversaries instead of buying each other things.

Over the years Les and I have come to the conclusion that we have too much stuff. And that stuff really doesn’t matter all that much. Maybe part of that is because we move so often, and so far.

The first time we moved any distance at all, from Price to Vernal, we moved bought a house (a giant mistake that I’ll never make again) that was at least 4 times the size of the one we had been renting. And we filled it with stuff. Then when we moved to Washington we got rid of a lot of it, but that house was bigger still and when we got there we got more stuff.

Then came the big move, from Washington to New York. We got rid of a lot of things when we did that, but in hindsight, not nearly enough. The first house we lived in in New York was tiny, smaller than our living room in Washington and we had a storage unit while we lived there. After we moved out we took quite a bit of stuff, mostly stuff that we realized we hadn’t missed in the previous six months, to the Goodwill.

Mt. Morris is where we finally started really downsizing our lives. I won’t go so far as to say we live a minimalist lifestyle, but we certainly don’t buy to excess. And when we lived in Mt. Morris is also when we really started travelling right. In the just over two years we lived there we went to Vermont, Washington D.C., New Jersey, NYC (twice), Boston(twice), Toronto (twice), Niagara Falls (twice), Cleveland, and Pittsburgh, not to mention the exploring we did within a few hours of our house.

When we did our second cross-country move, from New York to Oregon, we got rid of even more stuff and packed everything into a single truck. I even talked myself into getting rid of about 80 percent of my books, which hurt a little bit, I won’t lie. And now that we’ve been here more than six months I’ve got even more stuff to take to Goodwill.

In the long run I think we’ll get more joy out of the experiences we have together, travelling, seeing the world, than we would out of having a giant house filled with crap. Since I work in a nursing home, I’m not naive enough to say that we’ll always have the memories, but I intend to enjoy them while I can.

 

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