You already know that, like me, Joel’s a bit sentimental. He likes to hang on to things. It’s not just his favorite pair of decades-old shoes, either. In fact, when we first got married, we had a bit of a quandary. Let’s just say Joel’s preferences in matters of style were, initially, a bit different than mine. Luckily, his taste has become incredibly similar to mine throughout our marriage. In fact, it’s remarkable how quickly it has evolved, although I’ve always tried to be respectful of his man cave.
But to start, there was a miles-wide gulf between our preferences. He was all for uniting our possessions, and his generous philosophy was, “What’s mine is yours.” The trouble was -- I didn’t want what was his.
For example, displayed above his former garage door was a homemade, wood-burned sign that said, “Joel, ‘Self-Abuse’ Kuchera.” Apparently, his college teammates nicknamed him this due to his rough style of playing basketball. I had a very different understanding of what the term “self-abuse” meant, and I couldn’t help but wonder whether his ornery buddies might have pulled one over on Joel.
On a pleasant afternoon shortly after our wedding, Joel was organizing his items in our now shared garage. It was hard to make everything from two garages fit into one, so Joel was getting rid of a number of items. Unfortunately, the three large leaf bags under the workbench did not contain lawn debris. We didn’t discover that Joel had hauled off the brand new 17 Christmas wreaths I had bought on sale after the last holiday until I was ready to hang them on our exterior front windows in November of the following year.
Nothing could mar our first Christmas as a married couple though, not even the accidental discarding of 17 brand new wreaths. As the years have gone by, we’ve been able to joke about the mistake. I’ll faithfully remind Joel about how we once owned enough wreaths to hang from red ribbons on each front window of our home. I’ll playfully punch his shoulder, he’ll pretend it hurts, and then he’ll stalk out to the garage mumbling something about “not putting stuff in garbage bags if you don’t want it thrown away.”
But back to organizing our garage and Joel’s evolving taste. I was pleased with the way Joel integrated our belongings, creating a cohesive system. He found a spot for everything (except those wreaths). He was even able to build shelving for the items that he found at the county landfill when he was dropping off the junk he got rid of. He never ceases to be amazed at the nice stuff people leave at the dump. Just when we needed a new vacuum cleaner, he found three! Although they didn’t work individually, he was able to create one working vacuum by “parting out” the other two. We got one good use out of that thing too, before the cord shorted out and started one of our curtains on fire. He said he felt he probably still could have salvaged it by replacing the faulty cord, but he’d had to use the bag to beat out the curtain fire.
Yes, the dump has yielded quite a few treasures over the years. He’s found bike tires, nearly new mowers, pallets, and a friend of his even found a valuable vintage baseball bat and a number brand-new Christmas wreaths.
I believe in the sanctity of the man cave, so I don’t meddle in the business of the garage. Joel enjoys piddling around out there, looking at van magazines, going over his tools, and gazing at his many well-earned sports trophies.
You may be wondering if the “Joel ‘Self-Abuse’ Kuchera” sign migrated to the shared garage. It did, but after the wind caught it and blew it into the back alley several times, Joel must have outgrown the silly thing. Good deal, too, because the last time the wind got a hold of that sign, it blew right into our fire pit.
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