So, I’ve never really been one to put much stock in owning things. Don’t get me wrong, there were things I really enjoyed and would spend money on to own, but I never thought things had meaning to me. That is, until I lost everything.
We were walking through the house on Saturday, the day after the fire, with the amazing folks of Service Master, searching for emergency items that might have survived, that they would take to clean and restore immediately. I was in shock at the amount of devastation I was seeing. I knew the fire destroyed the house, I was in it when it was destroying it, but to see it first hand was unbelievable. When I say it looked like a movie scene, I am not kidding. Imagine the scenes from Backdraft (or any other fire related movie), then add heartache and pain and you can begin to understand where my head was.
I could not think of anything I wanted for myself as emergency, until we walked into our bedroom. I instantly thought “Oh crap, I have got to find the watch my Dad and Mom bought for me when I turned 18!” Christina asked me where it was and I swore up and down that it was in the drawer of my nightstand. I went to look for it and it was not there. I felt my heart drop through my feet. Where was it?
“I know I left it in there. I distinctly remember Issa wanting to play with it and me telling her no.”
I started to feel the walls rushing in to crush me and tunnel vision set in.
“Babe, I’m pretty sure it was in the box in the closet, yellow box. I’m like 100% sure,” she said.
I felt a little bit of hope (almost like light at the end of the tunnel) seep into the tunnel vision. I ran to my closet and grabbed the watch box, opened it up and there was my watch gleaming brightly. I couldn’t believe it! There it was! Pristine!
I couldn’t understand why I was so freaked out about a watch. Later I asked my wife. “Because that watch held meaning for you beyond what you realized,” she said.
When I was teenager, I would lose EVERYTHING. My wallet, my house keys, my shoes, literally everything. I don’t know if it was just being a boy, or just that I didn’t respect the things I owned.
My dad had a really nice watch of one sort or another, pretty much the entire time I was growing up. I really liked his watches and would often ask when could I have a watch like that. “Son, when you can prove to me that you can hold onto your things, then we will talk about getting you a nice watch.” Man was I disappointed. I could never do that, I was always losing stuff.
Something inside me rebelled against that thought though. I was going to prove to my parents that I could be responsible. I worked hard every day for an entire year to make sure that I wouldn’t lose anything. I made sure to put my keys and wallet in the same place every night, I made sure to put my shoes in my closet, I made sure every little detail of my life was kept in its place.
On my 18th birthday, my parents gave me a small wrapped package. Part of me was hoping that there was a cool watch inside, but another part of me wasn’t sure if I had proven myself or not. I ripped open the wrapping paper and there it was. The watch that proved that I had achieved what I thought was impossible. The watch that symbolized my transition from child to man. The watch that showed me I could be responsible.
There was another time I almost lost that watch, a few years later, when I was walking home from work late one night in Philadelphia I was held up at gunpoint. Two kids pulled out a shot gun, hit me in my face with it and then cocked it. They took my wallet and my garage door opener, I kept my wrist with the watch on it hidden behind my back. They never saw it.
When my wife told me that watch meant more to me than I realized, I couldn’t believe what she was saying. Things hold meaning? I had never processed that before, until I couldn’t find my watch that day in the remains of our home. The things we own DO carry a little piece of our soul with them. There are memories and emotions attached to some of the things we buy. Consider my mind blown!