Saturday, June 07, 2008

Message in a Bottle

When our good friends HWC Homeworks (Jim) was working on replacing our front door, a most unusual thing happened. Jim was removing the old frame and cut the wire to the door bell. In perfect Jim fashion, he offered to fix it, said it wouldn't be a problem but I took a moment to reflect on the event. No door bell. No solicitors who can't read the no soliciting sign. No petitioners requesting signatures and of course, money. No interruptions. was tempting. So we decided to be wild rebels and go without a door bell. Ah ha, no door bell. So how is it working out? Keep reading....

In our backroom, I have a wonderful work station with my computers and we had large shelves from the Container Store that we brought with us from California. I love them but we were becoming cluttered with too much stuff. So we have downsized our stuff and our capacity to store it. It is incredible how quickly one can purge when there is no more room to store. Discipline! So we spent the afternoon culling through documents, scanning some, shredding others and filing only that which we absolutely had to keep, working to get our stuff down to a manageable level. This was step one in reducing our clutter and entropy...or just stuff.

I have a lot of stuff but only a few things with significant sentimental value. When I lived in Orange County, I had to adjust to fire season. Most people wanted to know about earthquakes but I was most terrified of fires. If you have not lived in places with high fire threats, there simply is no way to explain how quickly one can be in trouble. I kept a bag, tucked away in the closet with the most important things I had - my passport, my marriage license, copy of my will and insurance papers and my dog Allie's proof of vaccinations. It was amazing how little was truly important if I had to vacate the condo in the middle of the night. Now all that stuff is online and located remotely if I ever need it. So I don't even need to emergency bag.

I have a few items of true importance. I have a piece of beach glass that hangs on a necklace around my neck, the glass a find while walking on the beach with my grandfather when I was about five years old. A pair of earrings that Paul bought me while traveling around the Middle East. And our old phone answering machine. Yup, an answering machine. There are a couple of messages on the machine with which I couldn't bear to part....a voicemail from our friend (and vet) Dr. Rick thanking Paul for the invitation to his Change of Command/Retirement ceremony; a voice mail from our friend and pet sitter Catie, sharing her tales on one of her last days with our beautiful Allie; a message from Joyce (who works with Dr. Rick) letting us know that they had Allie's remains safe and sound, telling us that we could come pick her up for the last time; a voicemail from Paul's friend (and former Navy colleague) Shawn, who spent a year in Iraq and I just was grateful to hear his voice; and a message from Paul's friend Big Johnny welcoming Paul to retirement. All messages of caring and kindness reflecting loss and change. All messages that once in a while I just need to hear.

So how is it working out without the doorbell? Well, not so well. The new stained glass, fiberglass door is a monster and no amount of knocking can be heard. While it keeps away the unwanted and unwelcome, we are missing those for whom we would throw the door open widely with reckless abandon. Those we just need to see and hear once in a while. So should you come visiting, please come to the side door - we can hear you there. :)

Good night from EGR.


Big Johnny said...

I am honored to be a lasting voice on your old answering machine....and i thought I was the last big sentimental sap. ;^)

Lisa said...

I love that someone else keeps that stuff, too. Personally, I still have the giant, chocolate kiss my dad gave me for Valentine's Day just before he died. I could never bring myself to eat it. Still can't. Of course, now it's 11+ years old and, even if I could get passed the sentimentalism, it would probably just be gross.


Deirdre Honner said...

In the end, it really is about people. Suze Orman has it right - people first, then things, then money. :)