A few months into pandemic lockdown, I suggested to my husband that we stop wasting money on two cars and downsize to one. You would have thought I was proposing we live off the grid and weave our own clothing.
Undeterred, I explained that one less car would free up enough room to start decluttering our disastrously cluttered garage. I could not have shocked him more with an idea unless it was that we both start dating other people.
For over 25 years, stuff we did not need but I could not part with had morphed into a monument to materialism so big, that I was certain it was developing its own weather system. Family had concluded that Mount Pile would be around for future generations to “enjoy”. My husband, suddenly renewed with hope, sold my car.
Weeks later, Mount Purgemore remained completely untouched. But my cluttering ways had found a brand new home in my husband’s once pristine vehicle, thrusting my co-pilot in life into a dark underworld of granola wrappers, mystery cargo and unused napkins from my trysts with Taco Bell.
He and I are different people. He treats cars like sparklingly clean centers of mobile calm. I treat them like compartments for primal scream therapy. These two styles should never cohabitate under one license plate.
Our roving den of iniquity became a kind of unfortunate environmental theater for my mate. After errands, he would return home spouting riddles like “How many ballpoint pens does it take to drive a car?” or “What''s green and sticky and all over the gear shift?” My answer: Under eye concealer, which is always best applied in natural lighting (while parked, of course).
His comments were never mean spirited. They were delivered with humor and affection as he reminded me that all I am to him and our family outweighs any clutter or car-tastrophy.
That unconditional acceptance of me and my mess(es) ignited a fire within me. I emptied the car, grabbed a bucket and went to work detailing every inch of our ride. Seeing his face when he climbed into his immaculately restored chariot was worth everything. What I treasured most in life did not reside in my garage. The next day, I began tunneling my way through The Big Dig.
My husband and I had planned a 25th wedding anniversary vow renewal ceremony. COVID canceled those plans. But we had indeed renewed our vows, in our own garage. Laughing about that together, he asked me if I wanted to go with him to pick up some Taco Bell. For the second time in 25 years I looked at him with tears in my eyes and said, “I Do.”