There’s so much talk, telling us not to look back – “stay present – move forward,” and I agree, for this, there’s good reason. However, I also trust that if we’re out of balance or life’s not adding up in the present, then maybe we should look back and reassess – what was it like before, when life was simpler, before we were affected, before we grew up and became overwhelmed? What did we do when it was working, when it wasn’t broken?
As a child, I saved my dollars and coins in a piggy bank. I liked the way the coins sounded when they dropped into the pig’s belly. I liked how pretty the savings looked through the plastic as it rested in safe keeping. I liked how it appeared the current monies made room for the newcomers. I liked how much fun it was to celebrate a full house – to open the underbelly and to allow the money to fall out. I liked to separate the collection into parts and to count each stack, once, twice, three times for accuracy. I liked accounting. I liked being accountable. My favorite thing about my piggy bank was the fun that happened when its insides were emptied and the untouched new wealth could be celebrated.
As an adult, I still have a piggy bank. It sits on shelf in my closet, I drop coins in it as I pass by or when I feel my wallet needs a reprieve. It grows like my childhood bank, but I no longer track its content. I pretty much only make deposits but rarely pay attention to its growth. I don’t really worry if it’s secure. Occasionally, I wonder if the cleaning crew or a party goer has ever taken a couple of coins or if my daughters may have invaded it in a time of emergency, but it usually doesn’t faze me. I don’t really care…well, that is until recently.
Recently, my piggy bank saved me.
We downsized. Back to just the two of us, we sold our family home of 16 years and moved into a place with a third the space. Our accumulation had to be opened up and accessed. Opening a cabinet suddenly wasn’t about putting something inside, but rather, it was about pulling it out and deciding on its worth. The “sum” came with us, but some went into storage. Some was trash and went to the bulk trash pile and green bin. Some needed recycled and went into the blue bin. Much went to the homeless. Some to a family shelter. A lot went to Goodwill. Some to a women’s crisis center. Some to our neighbors. Some to our friends. And some made it to my husband’s newly discovered money-making hobby, Craig’s List.
After his first Craig’s List sale, ($100 pool fencing,) my husband dropped the cash on my bathroom counter,
“Save this for our new, simpler life.”
I decided our Craig’s List profits belonged in my piggy bank. The stash would be safe amid the chaos of “green-taped boxes go to the new place (GREEN means Go) and blue taped moving boxes are headed to the storage unit.” While we packed, taped, hauled, cleared, cleaned, organized, dismantled, assembled, carried and moved, we lightened our exhausted mood with our deposits into our bank. Sold a table – cash to the piggy bank!
“Our List” (surely to the liking of Craig) of strangers who contributed to our piggy bank deposits includes:
A man whose children needed a pool fence – he planned on paying $125, but we said, “please take it for $100.”
A woman who told her young daughter, “I told you that I’d get us furniture for our patio, so you could sit outside with me.”
A man who looked familiar bought our bike rack. He said, “I probably look familiar because I’m an ASU political science professor and on the news a lot.”
A young guy who worked nights that bought a pair of never-worn golf shoes. I’m guessing a benefit of a night job is available days for golf!
A guy with a pony tail who bought teak furniture and got free moving/delivery with the purchase.
The young couple who purchased and also fixed a chainsaw in our garage.
A 12-year-old son who negotiated and signed for his deaf mother and father after driving from Maricopa for a $20 hedge trimmer.
A young teen girl who wanted bike clips, but didn’t want to meet at a stranger’s home, so she asked to meet at a busy bank parking lot.
A seamstress who wanted a dress mannequin and who acquired it on a downtown Phoenix street corner.
And of course, the dissatisfied customer who requested a cash return that we accepted. “The $30 solar-powered Malibu lights don’t work.” Did he think that maybe the lights need to be out of the box to collect solar power?
Yes, it was the people we met and the funny scenarios along the way that softened the complexity of our downsizing, but it was also about having a tangible item to remind us of our mutual goal, “keep it simple.” The piggy bank began to represent the simple life. Together, we watched the piggy bank grow. Together, we worked and added to its content. During the depleting, exhausting, complicated move, we actually grew. Our love for the simple life got bigger. Our support for each other multiplied.
Two weeks after the move, in the quiet of our new home during a mid-Sunday afternoon on the eve of our 24th wedding anniversary, we opened our piggy bank. We swapped stories about our Craig’s List adventures and our moving week nightmares. He took the nickels, dimes, ones, and tens. I took the pennies, quarters, fives, twenties. We didn’t have to count the two fifties.We didn’t bicker over who counted what. We didn’t divide the sum between us. It was ours. Counting, mixed with laughing, entertained us. We felt like children.
Life had become this simple. We had discovered balance and togetherness through the plastic confines of a pig.
A simpler life is the reason this little piggy cried,
all the way home!“