What’s in the Box? Saying Goodbye to Things to Make Room for New Experiences

On this edition of “Questions Not to Ask on a 22 Floor Elevator Ride” we go straight to the man on 23 who just couldn’t help himself….

whats in the box box brad pitt highqualitys se7en
Still one of the best movie scenes of all time!

Though Mr. 23 kept his question PG – the moment we stepped onto the elevator I knew it was coming.  He couldn’t help look at the box in my hands which, I will add, was clearly marked air filters.  I’m not sure what he thought might be in there but the tone in which he asked seemed a bit devious…like I was planning some kind of slumber party with hair braiding and pillow fights and he was hoping for an invite.  Anywho, here we were at ground zero, with the elevator doors slowly closing, about to make our way to the top of the building…

Mr. 23 –  With a smirk that raised the corner of one side of his mouth he asks, “Whats in the box??”

Me“My wedding dress.”  Simply stated.

Mr. 23 – “Ohhhh”  Spoken in a way he which was clear to me he didn’t know what to say as a follow-up.

Me – I eased his pain by replying, ” Yes. I sold it on E bay.  I figured I wasn’t going to wear it again so why not let someone else?”

Mr. 23 – Still staring while searching for his next words…

Me – “Funny how the remnants of one day can fit into one square foot box” I said quite matter of factly.

Mr. 23 – Now wishing to God he had never asked and silently cursing the remaining floors until he could get off the elevator.

It’s funny – in that moment I had absolutely no feelings about selling my dress beyond; 1. Relief that it would no longer take up space in my closet, and 2. Joy that I would be $100 richer.  It wasn’t until seeing Mr. 23’s somber reaction that I thought about the emotional implications of what I had done…I had broken a tie that led me to that day.  But the day still exists in my memory…so why do we need the physical reminder?

I am not an overly sentimental person.  I don’t save things – well, food yes, but things – no.  My, mom, however, is a bit of a hoarder and the worst type at that – the type that every time I come over she is trying to send me home with something…anything!  Whether it be food (thanks, mom) furniture, or the free bags you get with a checking account or magazine subscription – she always wants to send me home with a tangible item from her chronically cluttered dining room table.  I usually get out scot-free but a few weeks back she caught me off guard when, as I was leaving she handed me my wedding dress.  Oh boy…

What can I say?  The dress…the dress is a beauty.  In my weeks of searching, this was the only dress that I tried on that gave me that true “bride” feeling.  It was everything I didn’t know I wanted until I was zipped into it…strapless with a trumpet silhouette and a train (albeit a small one) with buttons all the way down the back. It was love at first sight…I said YES to the dress.  Blah, blah, blah – I’ll let you take a peek for yourselves…

Flanked by my Dad and Step Dad

Gorgeous, right? At the time of our wedding, my soon to be husband, E, and I were knee-deep in a home renovation that would ultimately take a ton of blood, sweat, tears, and another whole year to complete.  We were knocking down walls, gutting the kitchen, building a basement home office, cultivating the organic vegetable garden with a soil mix made from scratch. We were definitely in the upswing of our lives!  The accumulating phase…not in the good FI way, but, in the keeping up with the Jones’ kind of way.

We were busy…and to add to the suck of time, we were also spending at a ridiculous rate!  This type of spending could only be seen as a credit card clusterf*** for some, but in our case, we thought we were being smart.  We paid for everything in cash…CASH!  Looking back, I can only wish I had financed the construction costs, because 2 years later on the day I walked out of that house for good, I knew I was leaving behind a gold mine of not only my labor, but I was also leaving every cent I had invested into the house.  Now…I do not advocate using credit in the event that one day you may not be able to reap the rewards your cash has provided (in my case this house)…I am merely saying that had I known then what I know now, I would not have planted so much cabbage in a garden that I wouldn’t have a chance to eat from.  But that’s hindsight for ya!  😉

I miss my sq ft garden!!

When we decided to divorce and for me to move out, I had to be very selective with what I brought to my new home.  I was moving from a 3 bedroom brick ranch in the burbs to a 400 sq. ft. studio in the city.  To say I was downsizing was an understatement.  But was it really?  What I took from the house that day was similar to what I had brought into the relationship.  A bed, 2 dressers (one used as an entertainment center), a piano bench I use as a coffee table, a couch, a lamp, and my kitchen supplies.  Everything else that I left behind was just that – things.  I didn’t need them.  I had only bought that stuff to fill space.  None of it was essential to my life.  Some of it was sentimental (and we made plans for me to pick them up sometime in the future…) but none of it was essential.

Starting. Over. Was. Liberating.

The house had become such a labor of love that I hadn’t realize how much I was wrapped up in it until it was gone.  It had consumed every free moment of my time.  When I moved into my new place, that whole part of my life came to abrupt halt.  I was no longer chained to the things that had once surrounded me…thingamabobs that had no meaning except to exist.  My time was mine again.  All at once, the world stopped spinning and I found myself suspended in air…floating.  Freedom.  I was free to choose my next adventure.  So I did…

In the photo I had a dress on, he took liberties! 😉
  • 2012 – I took my mom to Spain to walk the Camino De Santiago…I had been there before and she said when she retired she would join me.  I held her to it.  😉
  • 2013 – I walked it again from start to finish…500 miles in 23 days.  While there, I met a man from Barcelona and spent the next year travelling back and forth being his muse…see above pic.
  • 2014 – I joined a group of 30 on the first ever European Peace Walk that took us through 6 countries ending in Italy – my ancestors homeland!
  • 2015 – I hiked through Portugal AND joined my friends on a trip to Ireland (my other homeland).
  • 2016  – I am heading touring Hong Kong then heading to Thailand to volunteer at an elephant nature park in Chiang Mai. ** UPDATE – It was awesome!!**
  • In 2017 – I plan to tour Italy – hike the Cinque Terre, visit Pompeii, try to track down a family member in Sicily, and become one with my peeps.

Those were/are the big trips.  Without the weight of my house and all those things I was also able to: drive to Bar Harbor, Maine for quality time with my sister (2 times), join my friends in Cancun to celebrate a 50th bday, hiked Devils Bridge in Sedona, go zip lining with Mom for our first times, take up geocaching with my nephew, spend tons of time with Bubba, and buy a studio in my same building (and not fill it with stuff).  I’ve spent time with loved ones in LA, San Diego, Phoenix, Vegas, Boston, New York, Orlando, Ft. Meyers, Seattle, San Francisco, Charleston, Austin, Dallas, and next week I’m heading to DC with my 93-year-old grandmother.  These are all things I couldn’t or wouldn’t have done before.

So…back to the dress.  Since my wedding day 6 years ago, many things have changed in my life but none more than my state of mind from when I walked down the aisle.  I don’t need things to remind me of experiences – I have pictures which take little space.  I have memories – some of which I am trying to forget.  😉  But the things I have beyond the ones I need are just filler in my life.  Unnecessary static that clutters my sight and my mind. The dress was one of those things.

So how much did I make off the dress?  Not much.  When I purchased it, I made very few alterations (none affecting the structure of the dress) which is ideal when you are selling to the second-hand market.  I purchased my dress for less than $400 and sold it for $100 + $19.99 shipping (though it wound up costing more).  All said and done, I walked away with a little over $90.  Not a massive killing but an income bonus for something that, as I pointed out earlier, I had no intentions of ever using again.  After all, isn’t it bad luck to use the same wedding dress twice??

What I have learned from the dress, the house, and my financial rise and fall, is that I don’t need things to satisfy my life anymore.  I don’t need the biggest and best.  I don’t even WANT bigger and better.  What I want is to experience life instead of being chained to it.  To have the freedom to make choices and not just satisfy my obligations.  To live instead of merely exist.  I also learned never to ask someone, “What’s in the box?”.

Until next time…

2 thoughts on “What’s in the Box? Saying Goodbye to Things to Make Room for New Experiences

  1. Alaska49

    We spent time in the Cinque Terre this past summer and hiked between the 5 villages. It was fantastic. We stayed in Vernaza and would recommend it. We day tripped out of there each day to hike a new trail and visit other villages. Rick Steves had some good YouTube videos and articles.
    We flew into Venice, took the train to Florence, and then stopped in at Pisa on the way to the Cinque Terre. Then off to Rome with a day trip to Pompeii and a hike up Mt. Vesuvius. my whole family liked the Cinque Terre portion the best.


    1. Hi Alaska!

      Thanks for the awesome information. I have wondered which town to stay in and it seems everyone has a different opinion. Thanks for giving your perspective on it. Vernaza has been mentioned by a few people so that may be the way to go. Pompeii is also on my list!! I have been interested since learning about it in 8th grade…a long long time ago! 😉

      Thanks for stopping by to comment.


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