My REI Dividend Reveals So Much

Natalie hiking on Mt. Baker.

Natalie hiking on Mt. Baker.

Dear Courtney,
My REI dividend arrived today. I used to look forward to its arrival with anticipation. At night I’d look through my catalogue and dogear the pages to  create a wish list of sorts. A new pair of hiking sandals, an extra warm sleeping bag, a headlamp, water wicking running gear, a cute rain jacket, oh, and a new Nalgene bottle, because I don’t have that color. (On a side note, I have a small addiction to water bottles and outer wear; it’s kind of a problem).

It used to be, before marriage and kids, REI was my Target– everything I needed was there. I hiked and ran and camped– heck, I once got stuck on the sheer cliff of a mountain side after an epically failed attempt to impress a boy by free climbing it! (But I’ll leave that story of stupidity for another time).

Then I got married, had kids. I love my husband; he’s THE ONE for me, but I think his direct quote the first time I suggested we go camping was, “Why would I use my vacation to voluntarily live like a homeless person?” Communion with nature is not high on his priority list.  At least not that type.

I know lots of people hike, camp, adventure with their little kids– they make it a priority. And even though it doesn’t excite him, J would do it if I pushed. But to be honest, it isn’t that important to me either. At least not right now. It just seems like a whole lot of work; Guy Guy doesn’t even sleep through the night at home, what the heck would he be like in a tent?  I imagine a hiking trip and all I can see is Guy strapped into a backpack making us sticky with sweat, and Bugaboo whining, wondering why no one is carrying her and begging for another snack.  Not everyone will agree, but it feels like a lot more effort than I want to put into a “fun” Saturday activity.

So this year, I was actually surprised when a dividend even arrived. When did I go to REI?

Then I remembered. The flagship store is here, and they have this indoor play space (and free parking, a rarity in Seattle); I took the kids to play on a rainy day last spring. While there I bought a waterproof sunhat for Guy Guy, a pound of dark chocolate cherries and a new water bottle (of course).

My dividend is $.31.

I laughed when I saw it.

So much has changed.  What takes  up my time and money has changed.

Don’t get me wrong, we still spend plenty of time outside; J used to be a competitive sailor (of sailboats, not Navy ships) and our family loves the water.  We live close to a beach and go often; we swim A LOT; we walk to our neighborhood farmers market; we ride bikes, we go to the park, etc..

But we’re not an “outdoorsie” family.

I feel like I should be  sad.  Like, I should ache for it.  After all,  this thing I once loved is missing from my life.  But I’m not.  When I look at that comically tiny dividend, I don’t see what’s missing; I see what I’ve added.   I see all the changes of the past 5 years:  two babies, a dog, a house, a massive job change.  I see decades worth of dreams fulfilled.

When I close my eyes, I see myself with my kids and hubby, roasting marshmallows over a camp fire.  I see us summiting some peak, and celebrating the victory at the top.  I know that part of my life isn’t totally over, but I’m okay with letting it be in the future.

So Courtney, here’s to future outdoor adventures– at some point when my kids can walk their own butts up the trail!

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m pretty sure $.31 will buy a handful of dark chocolate cherries!


5 thoughts on “My REI Dividend Reveals So Much

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