I’ve long since decided that it’s far better to spend money on doing things, rather than acquiring things. Sure, if I spend $5000 on an amazing diamond necklace, I’ll be able to keep wearing it for the next 40 years, but if I spend the same amount on a trip, I’ll be able to keep the memories of that trip FOREVER. Even better, while there’s a possibility someone could always take a necklace or any other tangible item, no one can take my memories from me. They’ll always be with me.
I just spent 8 days in England and France with my husband celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary. I worked RIDICULOUSLY hard to get the trip planned. We did all kinds of interesting things and went a few places that weren’t the typical tourist haunts, so it wasn’t as simple as just buying a package deal from some travel site. I had to plan every last detail. But we went, we spent a ton of time on trains and planes and ferries and the Underground and Metro and even a few taxis, and we saw all kinds of gorgeous scenery and cool sites. Now we’re back, and life is just the same as it was 10 days ago, with food to be bought and prepared, laundry and dishes to wash, kids to care for, and all kinds of other responsibilities, but now my brain is full of new memories that just weren’t there a week and a half ago. It’s kind of amazing.
One thing I’ll cherish is the memory of green: green leaves, grass, shrubbery. In England, especially at this time of year, green washes over everything on the landscape. From the sky, I could savor the patchwork patterns of green fields broken up by low stone walls. I soaked up the sight of rolling hills and shallow valleys layered with green grass and dotted with newly-leaved trees, fresh and new in the springtime, a different shade of green from the more mature colors later in the summer.
I spent the first 10 years of my life in Pennsylvania, which I previously suspected but now know for certain is a fine replica of England, the same rolling hills and patchwork fields with even the same low stone walls. Since I’ve now spent some years in the West and live in the state that’s euphemistically called “Golden” (but is just frankly “brown”), I miss the landscapes of green that surrounded me in earlier years. So this time in England recharged my green batteries for a little while, allowing me to store up memories of more soothing colors for the harsh, dry, brown summers here in central California. I even had a lovely day in Paris, which treated me to some rain along with alternating cloudy and sunny skies. I spent an hour just sitting on a chair in the Tuileries, soaking in the vivid greens dotted with bright splashes of reds and magentas. It was a feast for the eyes and for my memory.
No, I could have stayed home and bought that amazingly delicate and exquisite necklace I spied at the jewelry store. But I wouldn’t have these absolutely irreplaceable memories, stored up in my mind and heart, accessible at a moment’s notice on some future dry, brown, even stressful day. I’ll take the memories. They’ve expanded my whole mind and heart.