Part I

Last week, Dave and I finally dealt with the change bucket.

There’s a change bucket on our kitchen counter, and whenever we find any loose change in our pockets or lying around the house, we drop it in the bucket. Not so unusual, I guess.

The bucket isn’t huge. It’s maybe 6 inches square and 6 inches tall. It’s pink. And it’s been full to the brim forever.

Last Monday, I was possessed by some demon entity that enjoys the most mind-numbing activities. I sorted through the change, removing all the francs and pounds and florins and Marty’s tokens that had made their way into the bucket.

“Let’s make a bet,” I said. “Guess how much money is here. If your guess is better than mine, I’ll buy lunch.”

“Forty-five dollars,” he said.

I laughed. “Thirty-eight.”

We carried the bucket to the local Harris Teeter and dumped the change into the CoinStar machine. It took forever. The machine had to pause to catch up three times. We couldn’t believe our eyes. $111.

I put the money on my Starbucks card, then gleefully bought lunch.

Part II

This morning, I decided to clean out the trunk of my car.

I freely admit I am a terrible, terrible slob when it comes to my car. I would LOVE to blame this on Sam, as having a baby/toddler/preschooler in the back of your Corolla will drain the willpower from just about anyone (I think).

But seriously – he’s eight. And anyway, I was a slob before he was born. So there it is.

The last time I attempted to deal with the change bucket, it was 2009. I’m pretty sure I just carried the whole thing to the trunk and set it in there among the sporting goods and sweaty gym clothes and loose Doritos. Which, admittedly, was pretty stupid.

Of course, the bucket immediately fell over, spilling change everywhere.

The next day, a tree limb crashed through my back windshield. Sporting goods, sweaty gym clothes, Doritos, a bucketful of loose change, and about a million shards of broken glass.

My trunk stayed in that condition for…wait for it…six years. (Wince)

Until today.

It’s hot today. And awfully humid. And I spent almost an hour bent into the trunk of my car picking up change. In my pajamas.

The morning walkers greeted me cheerily, then carried on whispering, presumably about how my pajama pants were sweat-stuck to my butt.

I picked up everything I could, then I removed the carpet. More change. I picked it up, then removed the spare tire cover. More change.

And that’s when it happened. I removed the freaking spare tire. Because the demon was back and I was determined to get every last nickel.

And lo! The motherlode.

I spent an hour cleaning out the trunk of my car, and I made $52. That, kids, is a lot of Starbucks.

The Point

As I was digging through the glass and Doritos and other assorted detritus in the trunk of my car, it suddenly occurred to me: finding all this money is a metaphor for all the other hidden treasure in my life.

And I laughed, because I knew that the universe was playing a joke on me.

For at least six years (probably longer) I half-assed my way through life, dealing with whatever and whomever got in my face. I never cleaned up after myself. I just did whatever I thought I had to do to keep myself and the people I loved alive.

All the while, beautiful, valuable things were hidden in the folds of my life like pennies in a wheel well. I didn’t even notice.

The money in my trunk represents the opportunity cost of a half-lived life, a life where you live to please others, a life where you’ve forgotten who you are.

Am I reading too much into this? Maybe.

Guess I’ll get a latte.