I like to travel and I used to buy souvenirs everywhere I went. When I moved at the end of 2015 and had to box up all my stuff I realized that I had too much “stuff”. If there’s one thing that moving does, it shines a light on all a persons crap. Just prior to that move I had read a little bit about minimalism and was quite sure that was going to be my “thing”. I began to rid myself of all the things I didn’t need. Still, I had a 2000 square foot house with lots of places for stuff to live happily in plastic bins and closets and realized the madness has to stop somewhere and something needs to change.
Purging your life of “things” is not that easy. I mean some things are easy but it quickly becomes a game of “need and function vesus want and memory”. I spent 3 years slowly making decisions about what I could let go of and also trying hard to not acquire new shit.
One thing I decided was that I didn’t need souvenirs and that decision extended to my children. I resist buying myself little reminders of my trips. Instead, I take pictures and use words to record my adventures and those don’t take any physical space to store at all, it’s just bits and bytes which is next to nothing. It’s also easier to revisit and sort through. It’s a win-win.
That’s the new me, but I still have 30+ years of souvenirs from in my possession. Like I said, the purge is rough. I’ll be the first to admit that I still have way too much saved and stored in boxes. For example, when I was 18 and started dating my first husband Brian, one thing we did all the time was hang out with friends and play cards. Our snack of choice was chips and salsa and so I always had a lot of those little glass salsa jars (Tostitos was my fav). It turns out they were perfect for collecting sand. When I was 19 we got married and moved to Vegas. And what does a girl who likes keepsakes do when she lives in the desert? .. Collect sand.
That’s right. I had a habit of collecting different colors of sand in salsa jars. It became a quest.. to find new colors. I have 8 jars of sand from that time in my life, which might not sound like a lot, but considering that it is now 25 years later and I’m still toting this box of jars of sand around with me is pretty sad. With each move, I find that box in some cozy little hiding place and I stack it up with all the rest of my boxes. It moves with me and I find a new cozy little place for it to live at the new location. It feels like a problem.
I also collected rocks. That’s and even heavier proposition. Why I’m so attached to collecting free things from nature is beyond me. With the rocks I realize that they all end up looking the same and then you can’t distinguish the pile that came from California from the pile that came from Utah from the pile that came from the Badlands, or Yellowstone, or Colorado, or Mexico. After a while it’s all just rocks in pots and boxes and you’re having people look at you like you are crazy when you insist on loading them up in moving trucks. Yeah that.
It might be hard deciding what to do with the already acquired “stuff” but I recognize a good first step is to not add to the piles. Now when I finish a jar of salsa I wash it and put it in the recycle bin or, if it’s one of my own concoctions, I save the jar for reuse on the next batch.
I did a great job in Spain not adding anything to my great souvenir collections. No rocks or sand or shot glasses (which is one of my other oft collected items). I didn’t buy any t-shirt or hat or other trinket. Yay for little wins!!
What I did bring home with me, which was against my will and the original inspiration for this blog post, was a nasty virus. Jim and I both picked up a bug, presumably on the air travel home, and I’ve been fighting that for 4 or 5 days now. I felt like death over the holiday weekend and that was a serious bummer because it was sooooo nice outside. Jim is much better these last few days but I’m still suffering with congestion, watering eyes, and exhaustion.
I suppose it’s one of the hazards of getting on a plane with a crowd full of strangers and breathing their air for 10+ hours. Yesterday I started to feel a little better and so hopefully today will be even better. This is one “souvenir” that I will not have a problem letting go of. As for the rest of my piles?… The struggle is real. Ha!
Always Check It Before You Wreck It!
PS. Exhibit A:
From left to right.. San Diego, Maui, Nevada, Oregon, Yellowstone, and North Carolina. I think. 🤔😉 Ha!