Wednesday, March 23, 2016

the story of the coupon.

Let it be known that I am a saver of things. Toys from childhood, books that belonged to my grandma, every card or letter that anyone has ever sent to me... I save things.

Let it also be known that I don't save nearly as many things as I used to. As a child, I kept things with a tendency akin to hoarding. (Not that I was ever crushed by towers of old newspapers or found myself surrounded by rotting food.) The things I kept were my "collections." Among the stuffed animals and Barbie dolls were little plastic boxes (usually empty baby wipe containers) filled with seashell fragments, neat-looking rocks, colorful erasers, and even crayfish claws (and you can imagine the smell when you opened up THAT box).

It was my collection of paper artifacts, though, that have proved most interesting. I retained all the drawings that my brother and sister made for me, even though - at the time - I wasn't particularly fond of my brother and sister. My elementary school artwork is stored in paper boxes at my parents' house, as are some of my old papers and projects from high school.

Since I am a grown-ass adult with my own house, I have (slowly, slowly) been working on cleaning out some of the junk that I still have at my parents' house. Thankfully, they are quite patient with me - I haven't officially lived there for more than ten years, and yet, my old room looks pretty much the same as when I left it.

It's tough to clean out all that old stuff for myriad reasons. Allow me to lay them out for you so I seem like less of a deadbeat. 1.) I don't live that close, so when I come to my parents' house, I am usually there for a reason that does not include cleaning. And I sure as hell am not going to miss out on a day at Lake Poinsett in lieu of sorting out my old toys. 2.) My house in Luverne is tiny, which means I cannot house all of my old stuff. That in turn means that I need to get rid of TONS of things, which is time-consuming and has the potential to be emotionally draining. 3.) I suck at being an adult.

In spite of my roadblocks, I have spent a few days going through my old things - and I have discarded garbage bags full. Go me. But as I mentioned in the above paragraph, it takes FOREVER. I saved EVERYTHING, and of course, I have to look at each and every thing and reminisce. That's just how it goes.

During one of said cleaning sessions, I came across a veritable treasure: a small orange piece of paper that I had socked away for who knows how long. Written on this small orange piece of paper was a note from my brother.

When we were growing up, my siblings and I would often give each other coupons for things, as they were great gifts for children low on cash. I was a prolific pop-drinker back then, and Mitch undoubtedly gave me this coupon assuming that I'd use it up on huge bottles of Mountain Dew.

Mitch was wrong.

I wish there had been a date on this note, as I have no idea when he wrote it. I left for college at age 18, and Mitch was 12 then - so he could not have been any older than 12. If I had to guess, though, I would say that he was younger still. In any case, Mitch gave me this coupon, and I put it away and forgot about it for YEARS.

I rediscovered my little orange coupon several years ago. I showed it to my family, who could not believe that I had not only kept this coupon for so long, but somehow managed to find it again. When I dug up this coupon, Mitch was not yet 21 - I think he was 19 or 20. I made the decision then and there to hold off on this coupon for a couple more years... until Mitch turned 21.

You'll recall that the size limit on these drinks is 24 ounces. 24 OUNCES. This coupon was going to prove to be quite valuable.

Sure enough, I hung onto my precious coupon until Mitch turned 21. It was January 25, 2014, and I spent my first drink on Mitch’s and my very first time in a bar together – seems appropriate, right? We were in Wooden Legs in Brookings, and I had some sort of hard apple cider. The drink was less than thrilling, but the fact that my freshly-21-year-old brother was buying it for me was truly delightful.

Since that first cider, I have been carefully rationing my remaining drinks. The second drink I crossed off my coupon wasn’t until May 8, 2014. Mom, Mitch, and I had gone to Arizona to visit Darrah, and we were having lunch out at Joe’s Crab Shack. I cashed in on a peach honey smash (some kind of whiskey peachy minty concoction in a jar), and let me tell you, it was DELICIOUS: vacation drinks that someone else buys for you always are.

It took me nearly two years to choose my third drink, and I chose one very special occasion. Six of us Bjorklund cousins had miraculously lined up our schedules/lives and had met for a long weekend in Boston. I (the planner among us) had read up on Boston in my handy Lonely Planet book, and they suggested a bar in Charlestown called Pier 6. It was relatively unknown, so it wouldn’t be crowded, and it offered a view of the sun setting behind the Boston skyline – and it was RIGHT on the harbor. I was sold.

Our evening on the balcony of Pier 6 was indeed chilly, but we ordered our drinks and sipped them over good conversation and with one hell of a view. 

My drink was called the peach pit: homemade vodka, peach puree, mint, and tea. Despite the cold breeze coming off the harbor, my refreshing fruity drink made it feel like summer. (Sort of.)

I have two drinks left on my coupon, and I am going to use them wisely. It’s a goal of mine to make sure at least one of those drinks is actually 24 ounces (the maximum size as dictated by the coupon). Las Vegas, here I come?

Whatever happens with my last two drinks, it’s downright amazing that I’ve been able to use it as such. Who knew that a little lost-and-found orange scrap of paper could bring me so much joy? I guess good things really do come to those who wait… or accidentally hoard a coupon for a decade and then miraculously find it. Whichever.

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