Heart of Pennies
I love jars of coins. They conjure such memories ... mostly of when Gerardo and I were a young couple just starting out. That jar of coins was not such a trivial thing back then ... it was frequently a lifeline on nights when we wanted to treat ourselves to a pizza ... we'd go to our jar of coins to see if we might find enough quarters, maybe some wadded up dollar bills to see if we could scrounge up enough to splurge and order a large pizza from our local pizzaria. If not ... off I'd go to the closet to see if I could chance upon a 10 dollar bill in a coat pocket. Sometimes, when luck was on my side, I'd find a bill ... and that meant pizza time! Yessss!
But more frequently than not, there wouldn't be enough quarters and all the coat pockets would be void of bills and with a sigh, dejected, we'd go to the kitchen and drum up something less exciting but pretty tasty with the ordinary offerings from the fridge.
I remember one night we got into a fight. You know ... one of those young couple quarrels that seemed like a big flippin deal in the moment ... and I remember waking up the next morning and seeing pennies from our coin jar that Gerardo had assembled into the shape of a heart. And just like that, the reasons to stay mad dissipated into the air. Nothing else to say, no more grudge to hold, just hugs, warmth, love, laughter, and a commitment to continue working hard and making it happen as we nurtured the growth of our dreams and saved every single penny we would earn.
These days, when occasionally I order a pizza for the family, I yearn to go to a jar of coins ... I yearn to try and hunt for a forgotten bill in the pocket of my winter coat ... and though I'm thankful that I can now order a pizza without looking through my jar of coins or my coat pocket, I'm thankful that I have memories of tasting that sort of sweet struggle. Because it's how we learned to respect the value of every penny, the value of working hard, the value of discipline, and of course, the value of using imagination to at times pause and assemble pennies into the shape of a heart.