'Til Their Trophies at Last I Throw Out

Confessions of a Surrogate Packrat

The airlines have added another fee for checked baggage and frankly it couldn't come at a worse time for me. No, I'm not planning an extended trip, and even if I were, you'd be amazed at how lightly I travel these days. From what I'm able to cram into one roll-aboard and a small shoulder bag I could appropriately attire myself for four-month trek from Mongolia to the Galapagos, with a stop-off for dinner at the swankiest restaurant in Paris. In short, I never check bags anymore myself. It's what I had planned to send back home with my visiting son next week that poses the problem.

Here's the back story: A few years ago my husband and I relocated to a new city, and because the move came just shortly after our kids had left the nest, we decided rather than buying another house, we would instead take this opportunity to simplify our lives and become "cliff dwellers”. As a result we are now blissfully free to dart off on the kind of four-month trek I mentioned earlier, without worrying about frozen pipes, Dutch Elm blight, or rodents trapped in the attic.

There was, however, one gargantuan fly in this otherwise idyllic ointment – namely what to do with our stuff. After all, being married as long as we have, with two kids in tow, is a lot like floodwaters surging through a dry canyon. You tend to pick up a lot of debris along the way. Consequently, at the very moment Marc was carrying me over the threshold of our lovely two-bedroom condo to begin this newly streamlined chapter of our lives together; down on the street below a moving van sat, filled to the brim with the flotsam and jetsam of our previous existence, nervously awaiting its fate.

It was at this point that two schools of thought emerged, or more accurately, two heads butted. Marc-the-Practical saw mass quantities of useless junk and said, "Let's toss it!” while Lee Ann-the-Sentimental saw childhood keepsakes, priceless family heirlooms and treasured collectibles, and shouted, "Don't you dare!” Battles ensued, tears flowed, options were negotiated and a ten-by-twenty-foot storage unit was ultimately leased. In other words, I won.

Lucky me, I now have the best of both worlds. My single hall closet here in the condo contains only those items I need at a moment's notice – laundry detergent, light bulbs, super glue and Trivial Pursuit; and stashed behind the shower curtain in the guest bathtub are the plastic bins that hold all my photo albums. (In case you should ever stop over to spend the night, please remember to remove them before turning on the water.) Meanwhile, just ten blocks away, resting comfortably in a secure, climate-controlled space are such beloved mementos as letter jackets, gold spray-painted macaroni Christmas ornaments, my great-aunt's dentures (I'm sorry – it's true), and Jason's trophies.

And that brings me back to the baggage fees. You see, yesterday I went over to the storage unit to retrieve my high school yearbook because I needed to jog my memory about a classmate who "friended” me on Facebook, but I couldn't get to it because there was this huge, hundred-pound box in the way. When I discovered it was filled with more than thirty trophies – some significant; others heralding such "victories” as merely participating in the Cub Scout pine derby – I don't know, something inside me just snapped. Instantly, Lee Ann-the-Sentimental morphed into Lee Ann-the-Seriously-Fed-Up.  (I don't mind being a surrogate packrat for my kids, but I mean really...T-ball trophies?) So with super-human strength I hauled that box to the car and lugged it up to the condo, where I had every intention of foisting it upon Jason when he arrives here for a visit next week, along with the mandate: "Take these stupid things home with you!” Only now the airlines have added still another fee for checked baggage, thwarting my plan but good.

I can't prove it of course but I have a sneaking suspicion my husband is secretly behind this. After all, it would be just like him to rig it so that box would be in my way, figuring I'd get frustrated and throw out the contents. I wouldn't even put it past him to be working in cahoots with the airlines. Well think again, Buster. This battle is far from over. It's a matter of principle now. These trophies are staying put, even if I have to keep them in my underwear drawer!

Score another win for me! … I think.

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