Rainforest Butterfly 2Vacation this fall consisted of a trip to northern California. Many of Whirl‘s family members live in the area. We stayed in Oakland with Whirl‘s cousin, Ani. Nancy and Ray drove from southwestern Colorado to spend the week, staying with Nancy‘s sister Cynthia in Berkeley. Aside from getting together with family — something that does not happen as often as it once did for either Whirl or me — the trip’s other objective was the retrieval of Whirl’s possessions left behind when she moved to Chicago almost fifteen years ago. When Whirl moved to Chicago she packed up everything she could into a few big suitcases and we boarded a plane. Everything else ended up in a storage shed outside Santa Rosa. Where it waited, patiently, for us to return someday and move it with us. This was the mid-90s. Now it’s almost 2010, and we still haven’t retrieved it.

So, with the storage facility prices growing regularly, the service level declining by equal measure, and the value of the items in the shed potentially diminishing due to pest infestation, flooding, theft or any number of other variables we decided to finally clean out the storage shed, rid ourselves of a regular bill and finally bring those things of value back to Chicago. It is our home after all.

Ani and StephanieOpening the shed was something like opening a time capsule. Books, collectibles, clothes from the 80s — including a whole wardrobe of bridesmaid dresses Whirl wore for nearly a dozen weddings throughout the late 80s and early 90s. In short order, Nancy, Ray, Whirl, Cynthia and I separated items we wished to keep from those we could do without. The former we packed up and shipped to Chicago. The latter we threw in the back of Ani’s pickup truck and drove to the Santa Rosa Goodwill.

The trip included a lot of games, laughter and visits. Besides the trip to Santa Rosa, we headed across the rickety Bay Bridge into San Francisco for the day to visit the de Young Museum and the Academy of Sciences.

We took a couple cameras to document the opening of the storage shed, and I got some portraits of the family and our trip into San Francisco.

In the end we shipped sixteen fifty-pound boxes back to Chicago, almost entirely full of books — including some rare first editions — and thousands of comic books. The post office worker was bemusedly surprised when we showed up with the shipment. The packages will take up to two weeks to make it across the country, but after fifteen years, another two weeks isn’t really significant. Making our house more of a home is.