Funny How Things Can Take You Back

It’s funny how things can take you back. It could be a song, or a smell. It could be a phrase, or a scene from a movie. Whatever it is, you know it when it happens, because you’re suddenly transported back to a better time (hopefully.)

Have you ever come across something that took you back to an earlier time in your marriage? Maybe it was a time where you were younger, more carefree, more energetic, or more idealistic. It happened to me early one morning as I was leaving for work.

Having just backed out of the garage and into the street, I looked over to make sure the garage door had lumbered closed. That’s when I saw the trash sitting by the street, waiting like an orphan for someone to claim it.

Not thinking that much about it, I put the car in drive and headed out of the neighborhood. But a couple of blocks from the house something dawned on me and caused me to put on the brakes. (It’s a good thing no one was behind me.) I thought about turning around and going back, but decided, “That’s silly,” and drove on.

But I couldn’t do it. I had to go back! So I turned around and went back, even though it would make me late for work. I pulled back in my drive, got out of the car, and stood there looking at it. Then I pulled out my phone to take some pictures; all the time thinking, “This is crazy!” After a few minutes, I knew I had to leave it there. So like Rose letting go of Jack to sink into the Atlantic with the Titanic, I got back in my car and slowly drove away.

What caused me to turn around and come back? What caused me to drive away hesitantly, as if I was leaving a child at college for the first time? Wait for it…It was an ironing board!

I know that answer is anti-climactic and probably calls my manhood into question, but you need to know the story…

My wife and I were twenty-one years old when we got married. The day we married, we drove from our home town in Illinois to Ada, Oklahoma where we both had jobs waiting on us. We quickly found a small one-bedroom apartment to set up as our first home. As far as possessions go, we were pretty much starting from scratch. Everything we owned was in the back of a little Nissan pickup truck, and most of that was linens.

The only furniture we had was a stand on which to put our stereo. We slept on the floor and we ate on the floor. Having no dining table, we used the ironing board we brought with us from Illinois as a table. That’s right. It was that same ironing board that was now sitting by the curb waiting to be crushed in a sanitation truck and swallowed up by the landfill.

That ironing board had been with us for every step of our 35 year marriage journey. It held our food as newlyweds. It pressed the clothes of our small children who played underneath it, and it pressed the college graduation gowns for those same children. The creaking, screeching protest it made when you set it up or took it down gave you a familiar and audible assurance that you were indeed home. (Pardon me while I go get a tissue.)

See, I didn’t pull back in the drive for a last look at an ironing board. I pulled back in the drive for a last look at a repository of memories. Looking at that ironing board reminded me of how much has changed throughout our marriage: geography, children, jobs, income, houses, age, and grandchildren. But looking at that ironing board also reminded me of how much has remained consistent throughout our marriage: love, laughter, hard work, commitment, and friendship.

Every marriage has at least one “ironing board.” It’s something that takes you back and reminds you of how things were, how far you’ve come, and what you still have. “Ironing boards” can not only catch your eye, they can take your breath.

So, the next time you come across your “ironing board,” stop for a minute. Pull back in the drive and take the time to remember. You may just remember what your marriage is really all about.

What are some of your “ironing boards” that take you back and cause you to remember? Leave a comment and let us know. Better yet, send a picture! Maybe we could do a post with everyone’s “ironing boards.” Send your pics to Twitter (@bretlegg) or the Normal Marriage Facebook page (

Copyright © 2015 Bret Legg

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