Today marks a transition in the life of this blog. After 128 Friday Five posts, I thought it was high time to do something different. I’ve been honored that you spend part of each week here. Your feedback and comments have kept me dusting off the stools and pouring another round. But changing things up a bit will give me the chance to write in a slightly longer form with greater focus. I’ll still post on Fridays. I hope the following is a good example of what’s to come. Let me know what you think. And keep reading to find out the winner of the Birthday Pop Quiz

A lot of people have junk drawers; I have a junk shelf. Even though I rummage through the closet every day, sometimes twice a day, I have turned a blind eye to the the ragtag items on the shelf. I know they are there, I just choose to pretend they’re not.

By most U.S. standards, mine is a small apartment. If you stand in a certain spot near the front door, you can see every bit of it. In other words, storage space is precious. But even in an apartment the size of a kid’s bouncy house, there are nooks and crannies to squirrel away things that I’m not ready to deal with.

Like straw tote bags.

Straw Tote Bag

This tote bag was purchased specifically for a trip to St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Ten years ago. Since then it has not only patiently waited to be brought to another sandy beach, but it has also come along on an apartment move.

A few weeks ago, I needed something on the shelf. I patted around blindly as I stood on a step stool when my hand brushed against the coarse straw. I brought the tote bag down to eye level and thought how much fun it would be to use it this summer. It’s large enough for a beach towel, suntan lotion and the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly. I returned it to the shelf with dreams of bikinis and ocean waves dancing in my head.

Except I can’t remember the last time I read an issue of Entertainment Weekly or wore a bikini or been on a beach in a manner that would require a tote bag. I want to do those things. (The bikini, only after an extensive number of crunches and cocktails with umbrellas in them.) I want to want to do those things. But I obviously don’t want them enough.

If you asked, Do you like the beach? I would answer with a resounding, Yes! It’s one of my favorite places to go. This isn’t a total lie. My summers as a teen were a blur of sand, salt water, volleyball and a few jellyfish stings. But times change as did all the ripped and tanned surfer boys of my youth. Where I live now has sucked all the joy out of a day at the beach. If you’ve seen Jersey Shore (I won’t tell anyone), well, case closed. Besides, now I’m curmudgeonly. I worry about overdoing it in the sun, stepping on medical waste, and who is tracking so much sand into the car.

Clearly it was time for the tote bag to go. It takes up a lot of space and, most importantly, I never use it. Then why did I put it back on the shelf? And why did the tote bag mock me every time I opened the closet door?

Of course, it’s not about the tote bag; it’s about what the tote bag represents. Get rid of the bag and face the fact that I’m no longer sixteen. That was a time when I thought run to Key West to live the life of a Jimmy Buffett song. By holding onto the bag, I’m holding on to a more idealized version of myself. Am I over-thinking this?  There are entire websites, magazines and television shows dedicated to getting people to come to grips with the reality of their lives by discarding the fantasy.

I had to let go of the ideal so I could make room for the real. (Hey, that could be a line on a teabag.) It took a couple of weeks to get the courage to bring the bag to Goodwill and give it a chance to live the life it was meant to have – on a beach filled to the brim with Entertainment Weekly.

Do you have anything you can’t bear to part with? 

Thanks to everyone who took the birthday pop quiz. A special thanks to those of you who thought I was at Jay-Z and Beyonce’s vow renewal. I flattered that you think I’m that cool. So many of you got all the answers correct, but the very first was Nancy over at The Invisible Shadow. Nancy, I’ve made a donation in your name to Best Friends Animal Society. Thank you for visiting and leaving such thoughtful comments.



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