I have this sweatshirt that used to be my favorite article of clothing.
I wore it all the time in college because it defined who I was. On the front, it says: “GRACELAND VOLLEYBALL” in traditional college capital letters. It’s gray with navy writing — an unremarkable sweatshirt, but it was my favorite. It was comfortable and I loved it.
I haven’t worn that sweatshirt in at least 5 years.
It’s not that I lost it. I know exactly where it is.
It’s not that it doesn’t fit me anymore. It does, even though it’s a little more snug than it used to be.
I just doesn’t define me anymore.
Now, don’t get me wrong…I will always treasure the time I spent as a member of the Graceland Men’s volleyball team. It was an important part of my life and the friends that I made are still a big part of my life. They always will be. But as time has put its distance between me and that time of my life, the sweatshirt has been replaced by a 3-button navy pullover sweater from Old Navy. That’s my go-to item for comfort these days.
As I was emptying the dishwasher today, I was looking at our silverware. Next summer we will have been married for 10 years and the silverware we chose is still perfect. It’s practical and sturdy and works both for everyday use and for nicer occasions.
What was it about the silverware that made us realize that we’d still love it 10, 20, 50 years from when we got married? It’s classic and it isn’t fussy or fancy and I guess that’s kind of what Alli and I try to be in our relationship.
All of us have things in our lives that are like the sweatshirt and the silverware. Things like the sweatshirt are meaningful to us at a specific time and they remind us of good times, but their importance wanes. My volleyball sweatshirt shaped me quite a bit more than the silverware did personally. But the silverware will be around longer and probably be more functional to me over time.
A lot of relationships in our lives can fall into one of these two categories. Some are like a comfortable sweatshirt — keeping us warm and giving us identity, but they have an expiration date. Others are unassuming and functional like silverware — constant and sturdy and long-term. Both are important to us for different reasons. An interesting sidebar is that the close friends I’ve made through volleyball…they are examples of the sturdy silverware in my life.
It’s funny what you think about when you unload the dishwasher.