Where do you go on a date with your spouse?
My wife Speranza and I have been married for 27 years. In that time we've been to movies, the theater, hundreds of restaurants and traveled quite a lot. Our work brought us together so we never really "dated," but we've always found some kind of special place we both wanted to go where we could share each other's true desires.
In those early years of marriage, that was often the local Office Depot. There was always so much incredible stuff to lust after - computers, cordless phones, perhaps a shining new desk calculator? Uniball gel pens! And those wire-mesh Inboxes! This probably peaked during our Sierra City years when we both worked at home and it was a 90-minute trip to Reno to buy just about anything; one of those dates resulted in a $5,000 Xerox copier being delivered to our home.
Oh, the ecstasy!
We moved down the hill from Sierra City to Grass Valley to build our dream home and the office superstore was replaced by - what else? - Home Depot! For an exciting year our dates were to look at everything from tile to toilets. Romance was everywhere, even in the rock yard. And even once the house was finished, a Saturday afternoon sojourn to the local hardware store and garden center was always like a mini-vacation.
Now we live on a sailboat in the Alameda Estuary. So our new dating location is the West Marine store on Buena Vista. Instead of calculators and potted plants, now there are life vests, boat shoes, anchors and solar panels. Lots of great little gadgets for the galley and head, too; especially "space saving" items that, unfortunately, take up space themselves. (If you happen to be an RV owner, West Marine is the sailor's Camping World and you know exactly what I'm talking about.) We’ve been in there so often, the staff is like our extended family.
We could easily walk out of the store with a carload on every trip if not for the overriding fact that we live in a space of maybe 600 square feet, most of which is already filled with either our belongings or the boat's own permanent furnishings. So we do, sometimes, leave West Marine with only the 1/4-inch stainless steel bolt that I actually needed. (We know, though, that there's a gas barbecue back there with our names written all over it.) We return home, I put together whatever it is that fell apart, and it's time for some quiet relaxation and drinks in the cockpit that serves as our front porch. Procurement was successful; life is good.
There's magic in stores like these, where "stuff" translates to dreams. At Office Depot it was our infant businesses; at Home Depot it was the mountain home we'd dreamed of, and now at the chandlery (which is a "boat stuff store," by the way) it is our dream of sailing away. Every “date” gets us just a few inches closer to that dream, and they are times we enjoy sharing.
Next week, maybe seat cushions!