You know that trope of bartenders on Law & Order who remember that one guy from fifteen months ago and happen to have his receipt in a drawer, just waiting for a detective to come asking for it? I felt like one of those.
I just needed to scan it, take a couple pics of my SD card, upload those and some routine info, and then hope that when they say "Submitting an online Warranty Replacement request does NOT guarantee that your submission will be processed and approved for Return Merchandise Authorization (RMA)" that they don't mean me. Also, hold up. They don't even guarantee your submission will be processed? That's... something. But since I could find my receipt with ease, that must be an omen that my RMA will not only be processed but approved.
Alas, Dear Reader, we will never know. See, I got sidetracked sifting through that box of receipts. To jump ahead to the end of the SanDisk affair, yes, I screwed up and threw it in the trash that was collected just a few hours later. Normally, that would be the whole anecdote of a blog post. This one took me in an entirely other direction, though, and it's that that I wish to share and explore.
|For six dollars, you get the donut, the hole, the whole damn thing.|
Let me return to the earlier, obvious question of why I've kept all those receipts for almost eight full years. I had spent a few days being treated for severe, suicidal depression, and learned as I was ready to leave the hospital that my wife was ready to leave me. At first, it was presented as an open-ended but temporary thing so she could decompress after sticking out that year. That was fair and reasonable, and I was fine with it. I looked forward to her catching her breath and us working together again as the companions we had been before my depression isolated us from one another.
Like so many married couples, we had a joint bank account. Like so many married couples, one of us largely deferred to the other. In our case, I deferred to her since she was the breadwinner and also because she was meticulous about keeping up with finances, whereas I'm the type of person who finds out he's out of money when his debit card is declined. (That actually happened to me more than once back in my late teens.) I couldn't intrude on her every time I needed to spend money out of that account, but I also couldn't not spend money out of that account. I resolved to make do with as little as possible, and to hold onto my receipts in case there were any issues with the account's activity.
It took a month before I realized that she was not, in fact, ever coming back. It took a few more months before I fully accepted it. We still had the joint account. The bank would not remove me from it; we would have to close it altogether and start our own individual accounts. Fine, sure, whatever. I got set up with my own account. I didn't want to throw out those receipts, though. Before, I had held onto them as a matter of diligence; now I felt I needed them in case our relationship deteriorated further and I might need to account for any spending I had done.
"Okay, yeah, but Travis," you ask, "why did you need to keep every receipt from your own account?"
My default answer would be that it had simply become a habit, even in such short time. Having the receipts made me feel like a real grownup, who could function just fine without his wife overseeing things. Plus, I anticipated the scenario of my Micro SD card abruptly stop working and I would need that receipt. See? I learned something from all those Law & Order reruns.
But last night, I finally sat down and went through them, each and every one. Because I mostly just dropped them on top of one another, it was like an archaeological dig through several strata. The majority were routine things like groceries, medication co-payments, and way too many visits to Burger King. There were, however, several that stood out. Some of them just amused me, for various reasons.
|I made a friend, but thought for an entire year she hated me.|
I've also, in that time, been in inpatient treatment for suicidal depression twice more. I've lost my grandfather; an adopted uncle, Bill Marham; my mentor, Morgan Broadhead; and all four of my cats. I still had receipts pertaining to those things, too. I can tell you that my family went to eat at Texas Roadhouse after my grandfather's service, and my friend and I went for burgers at W.W. Cousins after Bill's.
I separated the receipts. Mundane ones, like the ones from Kroger that are obscenely long, could go. Most of the ones from restaurants went. (I kinda wish I'd kept the one from when I went to Qdoba for tacos after casting my vote in the 2016 election. It was as meaningful an act of defiance as I could manage that evening.) However, I also have the receipt from the restaurant where I first met someone who has become one of my dearest friends, even if neither of us will admit to it in front of other people. I've got one from a night when I spontaneously decided to make a diorama for a friend of mine who lives in Australia and had to dash off to Walmart in the middle of the night for yarn and plastic spoons, and the receipt from the post office when I mailed it to them. That whole project was an absolute lark!
One of my favorites, though, is a Walmart receipt from 22 November 2011. That was the first night that my niece stayed over with just me after my wife left. This was significant because she was my niece through marriage, not blood. I worried that I would lose her, too, as typically happens after divorces. I'd had little to no contact with my in-laws since my wife left. It wasn't promising. But then I ran into her with her mom and brother by happenstance the Monday before Thanksgiving at Walmart (which is why it's a Walmart receipt, Dear Reader). There was some reflexive awkwardness between the three of us. I love my nephew just as much, but it's fair to say that he and I are pretty different from one another. I think my world bores him. He'd become jaded about people leaving his life by this point, and while we still have a relationship and he knows he can reach out to me at any time, he's been more comfortable leading his own life. I get it.
My niece, however, was entirely unfazed. She ran to me and hugged me, and said, "I want to spend the night at your house!" I knew in that moment that our relationship would continue. Her mother saw to it that it could, and I am eternally grateful to her for that. She didn't have to do that, but it was unanimous: I'm her uncle, she's my niece.
|Don't worry. The gum wasn't a topping.|
After I'd been rummaging for a couple of hours, I realized I hadn't been entirely honest with myself. I had kept those receipts as a tether to that ambiguous period between when my wife left and when I realized she wasn't coming back. I haven't pined for her. She comes up in my conversations semi-regularly, but only because she was part of the stories I have to tell. ("Have to tell" in the sense that they're stories in my repertoire, not in the sense that I'm obligated to tell them.)
So what was I holding onto? Certainly not some belief, or even interest, that we might still work it out. I don't know what it was, honestly. Not yet, anyway. But I did decide to purge most of those receipts (you did remember that from the preface story about the Micro SD card, right?). It felt...
I dunno. I've stared at this screen for ten minutes and don't know how that sentence ends. I'd already thought about it for hours before sitting down to write this. I think this is one of those things that's just going to take time before I can understand it. Somehow, though, I know that this purge will bring me a closure I didn't know I needed. Apparently, though, I've had it since last year.