What is a souvenir that is free, takes up no room in our bag, cannot be stolen, and grows more precious over time?
As Tom and I said goodbye to friends this past weekend and packed up our apartment in Newport, I realized how much more my life is enriched by people than by possessions.
I especially felt the burden of our things as Tom and I cleaned, sold, packed and stored all of our stuff. Every object we have worked so hard and spent so much money to acquire now drained us of time, effort, space, and more money during our last week in Newport. As I looked at all our stuff, I felt exhaustion and discontentment.
On the other hand, I had a heightened experience this week of the richness and blessing of the relationships with friends and family we invested in over the years. As Tom and I squeezed in every last second with the people we love, we found ourselves physically tired, but spiritually refreshed.
It reminded me that relationships, like things, require time, effort and work to maintain. Without such intentionality, they slowly deteriorate. Our good friends sum it up best in their toast to friendship (thanks Ziyalyan’s and Hovsepyan’s): Friends are easy to make, but hard to keep, because friendship requires effort.
But unlike possessions, friendships leave us humble, appreciative, and strengthened.
Nevertheless, we will always have things in our lives, and that isn’t necessarily bad. As I whittled my belongings down to the bare minimum this week, I took note of the objects that are worth buying and keeping. I found that the most precious of my objects either commemorated or facilitated a relationship.
A good example is our party hats!
At our going away party on Saturday, two of our good friends (thanks Etue’s), showed up with matching party hats for Tom and I. Each had an altered Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure movie poster modified to depict Tom and I atop a phone booth with the label Tom and Jaime’s Excellent Adventure. Epic.
They were cute and we could just wear them at the party and move on. But our awesome neighbors (thanks Grandt’s) had the creative idea to bring them along on our trip, take a picture in the hat at each location, and sign and date it. So we are doing just that!
Now the hats aren’t just another thing to pack. They are a means to stay connected and share our experiences with our friends. Just imagine the excitement when they see our ridiculously loud blue and yellow hats in front of the Eiffel Tower, outside of the Louvre, inside the Coliseum, etc.…and we will think of them with each and every snapshot.
Moreover, I anticipate the hats will raise eyebrows and spark conversations with strangers, the start of new relationships. And they will commemorate the adventurous advancement of my relationship with the most important person in my life, Tom.
So stay tuned and watch for our party hats as we take them with us around the world. And this week, look for a possession of your own that you can use to facilitate, deepen, or commemorate a relationship in your life. Share it below.
I'm Jaime. My husband is Tom. Suburbanites, backpackers, and expats...we've been them all!