The Shmoopy Stash

Janelle and I are still trying to finish getting the new house all settled and cleaned. It’s slow going, since we really only end up having time to work on something every other day. Making matters slower is the fact that we tend to approach a project, and then find some reason why we should wait before tackling it. Maybe we’re missing some furniture we want. Maybe there are boxes in the way that need other things to be finished before they can be moved and emptied.

I set out to tackle our guest bedroom. I wanted to organize a desk and filing cabinet, as well as populate a hutch with books and miscellany. I didn’t get very far. But I did manage to uncover the Shmoopy Stash.

If you don’t feel like watching that clip, “Shmoopy” is the apex of sickening romantic cuteness. The Shmoopy Stash is therefore then all the constituent parts  that comprise the romantic cuteness. Janelle and I each have one, though it’s not a formal arrangement. When I told her I had found the Shmoopy Stash I had to take a minute to explain to her what in the hell I was talking about. We just each happened to hold onto a bunch of keepsakes from our relationship. Post-it notes, letters, postcards. They cover a pretty solid swath of the start of our relationship.

In the course of cleaning and moving about in life, I think there’s a tendency to get rid of things like this, but I would caution against that. Janelle and I get along great, don’t get me wrong, but our relationship lacks the sense of shattering urgency it started with. Just like every sitcom marriage you’ve ever seen, things have cooled down since the heady days of our youth, lo these many eons past. I can only assume it will morph further in a couple of months (!) when the baby arrives. Distractions abound. Soon they will stampede.

The Shmoopy Stash is a perfect capsule of that time. It’s a bit of inspiration. Sure, there’s the occasional picture of a much skinnier self that carries with it a tinge of pouting, but by and large everything you keep will be a piece of kindling. Reading through letters written to each other during our first summer apart (we had only dated for a couple of weeks before Janelle moved up to Seattle for the summer with her parents) and being able to read and remember how much our relationship wasn’t just a general fact of our lives—the way your heartbeat is just one of those things your body does to keep you alive—but was an active and driving focus of our priorities was invigorating.

We’re committing to changing now. It can’t be escaped. When that baby arrives life can never be the same again. It’s the single thought that makes me nervous (outside of “How would I protect the baby in the event of ninjas?”). How will I like it? What will it be like? There’s never, ever any way to tell. You simply can’t prepare for it. I have no idea how it will affect Janelle and me. Sure, I have hopes and expectations, but I’m not so naive as to bank on them.

What I do know is that the Stash will always be upstairs, piled unceremoniously in the bottom drawer of a boring plastic storage unit. It will be filled with absurdly overwrought emotions and pining and epiphanies. It’s the architecture of us and the foundation of this new family. I know that just a minute shuffling through it will remind me that while life will never be the same again, there’s always one thing that I can set my heart on.

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