Sometimes I’m embarrassed and sometimes I’m proud of how organized I am. I don’t have a memory of purchasing the pink cooler. But the dated receipt gives me the information I need to piece the story together.

I moved to Powell, Wyoming, after I graduated NYU in 1988. From a population of 8 million to 4,000. Powell was too small town for my taste at the time. I could not stay. This was pre-internet days and I was only 22 years old with very little life experience. Throwing a dart on a map was, more or less, how I found my next place to live.

First, I decided on the State of California because of the weather. Next, I went to the library and after reading about the larger cities. I narrowed it down to Sacramento or San Diego. When I told my dad, he said I’d like San Diego better. That’s how I came to live in southern California for four years before I moved to Alaska.

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I paid $11.99 for the Little Playmate Igloo pink cooler on August 31, 1989 at Pamida. Click to enlarge.

On August 31, 1989, fourteen months after I graduated NYU, I bought the pink cooler. I know it was purchased for the long drive from northern Wyoming to southern California because of the date. And when given the choice of a pink cooler versus any other color (except purple, if there is such a thing), is there really a choice? It is not a breast cancer awareness cooler as my purchase was three years before the color pink became inextricably linked to breast cancer with the first pink ribbons.

It’s a small cooler so I assume on the 1,200 miles drive it held carbonated caffeine beverages, snacks, fruit, maybe sandwiches. Then four years later, with my tiny Subaru Loyale weighed down, I found room for it to make the trek of 3,800 miles to Anchorage, probably packed the same as the first trip.

And, while I have upgraded to bigger coolers for camping, I still have my little pink cooler.

I wasn’t sure whether I would write about the pink cooler. I don’t have an attachment to it the way I do to other items I posted in this Downsizing category. But I like the story. And I like the memories. I remember stopping to gamble in Nevada on the way to California. I remember stuffing my car beyond reason for the drive up the Alaska – Canada highway. How many times did the back-end scrapped in the heavy frost heave waves of the road? So many that I was positive I’d leave half the car in Canada.

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Warranty that expired in 1994. Click to enlarge.

I probably wouldn’t have written about it if not for the receipt stapled to the long-ago-expired five-year warrantee. Completely weighted down and stuffed, I still hauled that receipt to Alaska.  I put it in a file drawer, where 27 years after the Pamida clerk handed it to me, I came across it in the receipts and warranties file I keep.

I smile and roll my eyes at myself at the same time.  Proud and embarrassed. Embarrassed and proud.

The pink cooler didn’t sell in either of my garage sales this past summer. But the cooler-buying season in Alaska is late spring and early summer, at the start of fishing and camping season. Next spring I will have another garage sale or two. If it doesn’t sell (price is $5), it just might be a sign for me to keep the pink cooler for another 27 years or 5,000 miles. Whichever comes first.

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