The $10 Time Machine

Almost 16 years ago, my wife and I had recently began dating when I invited her to come to San Francisco with me. I was going out to attend Macworld as I did almost every year. And though we had not been dating very long by that point, I knew this would be a lifelong love. Thankfully, for my sake, she felt the same and agreed. It was a fantastic trip. One that I remember every detail of and likely will for the rest of my life.

Just before leaving for the airport to fly home, we decided to squeeze in some last-minute shopping. Amongst that we popped into the Old Navy flagship store in downtown San Francisco. As is my habit, I made a beeline to the clearance section to see what treasures I might find there. Lo and behold, stuffed at the end of the rack was this pea coat. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Not only had I always wanted a pea coat, but for Old Navy this one was particularly and surprisingly well-made. The sort of thing one might find in an Army/Navy store. Heavy wool, top shelf construction, a classic. But the kicker, the truly unbelievable thing, was the price — $10. Yes, you read that right, $10. A no-brainer.

I’ve worn this pea coat every winter since. It’s the most favorite thing I own. Not just because of its utility, the fact that it will never go out of style, that it’s built to last a lifetime, but also because I’m flooded with memories of that time — being so freshly in love with the most important person in the world to me and our first of many trips together.

Yesterday was the 16th anniversary of our first date.

I was wearing this coat when I proposed to her.

Today, as I do every year, I spent time cleaning it up with a lint brush and prepping for another winter together.

This year, at a time we can’t travel, these memories are especially precious.

And I have a $10 time machine that can take me anywhere.