There are so many of us who can’t part with objects because of the sentimental attachment we have to them. You know—the graduation tassels, the barfed-on stuffed animal with the missing eye, the coat your late father bought for you because you begged. So what do you do when it’s time to let go of these beloved items because it’s absolutely necessary?
I’d read someplace that one of the best ways to let go of an object is to know that you have a photo. Sure, you can photograph it before you get rid of it. The Goodbye Project takes the idea a step further: go back and find photos of yourself actually with, using, or wearing that object, and blurb a bit about the memories it invokes.
Why? Everything has a story.
And because of that, the object deserves more than just a hasty trip to the Goodwill or the trash without a second thought.
EPISODE 24: TRAVEL SIZES
Video: Sometimes, it’s hard to get rid of that collection of travel sizes because holding one in your hand can bring back all the magic of those first moments of a trip, as this video of my friend Meghan and me exploring our room at the Contemporary Resort in August, 2008 suggests. (Note: Some adult language; we were a little too excited to control ourselves.)
Who hasn’t taken at least one of those cute little shampoo bottles or wrapped soaps from a hotel room? I think most of us snag them because we think they’ll come in handy when next we travel (especially with the change in airline regulations over the last decade)—but then, inevitably, they end up in some drawer or box with all of the other ones we’ve accumulated over the years, and before we know it, we have a pile of travel-sized soaps, shampoos, shower caps, make-up removers and sewing kits that are doing nothing but aging and collecting dust.
I have a huge tub of travel-sized toiletries, and I realized when I was going through them that I wasn’t saving them for future use—when I travel, in fact, I bring all of my preferred products, just in smaller containers—I was keeping them because each invoked a memory of a pleasant trip.
Because of that, I couldn’t bear to throw them out, no matter how old they were. So I decided, instead, that I would start using them on a daily basis. Not only did I discover that it saves me some money (it’s going to take a long time to use everything up)—I found that the specific smell of each product brought back a memory, too, as in the case of the Disney Resort products. One whiff of that lotion or soap, and I’m at the Polynesian.
Below, some of the items I’ve collected over the years and the fond memories they conjure.
These date back to the Howard Johnson’s in Niagara Falls, Canada, August, 2001. Charles and I were on our way up to Thunder Beach in Ontario to visit some friends, and we spent the night in a HoJo there.
The flyer for the hotel in which we stayed in August, 2001, where I got the shampoo/conditioners.
Niagara Falls at night. That was the very first time I’d seen the Falls for real (as an adult—I think I was 4 the first time and have no memory of it whatsoever). It was completely breathtaking, and definitely spawned my love of Niagara Falls kitsch as well for the short-lived television series Wonderfalls, which aired on Fox in the Spring of 2004 (a really interesting tour of the show’s shooting locations is here: http://www.wondertour.org/)
Me, left, and Charles on Thunder Beach, Ontario, Canada, August, 2001.
These were available in the Walt Disney World moderate-level resorts in 2005 and 2006. I haven’t started using these yet.
The back of the wrapping of the bar soap that was placed in moderate-level resort WDW hotel rooms in 2005 and 2006.
The shower in Room 1750 in Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside Resort (the Alligator Bayou section), September, 2005. This was the first time I had stayed in an on-property resort since the 1980s, so it was very magical for me. You can see the soaps/shampoos on the edge of the tub.
Charles, left, and Nathan, right, accompanied me on that 2005 trip—the last time we drove. Here we are getting ready to pull out of our driveway and head for Walt Disney World in September, 2005.
The shower in Room 1745 in Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside Resort (the Alligator Bayou section), September, 2006. That trip was special because it was the first time I’d been to the Disney Parks with my sister, Missie, since 1987. You can see the soaps/shampoos on the ledge.
At left, my niece, Andi—that September, 2006 trip was her very FIRST time at Walt Disney World in Florida—and, to the right of me, my sister, Missie. One of our goals was to have a photo of the three of us taken in each country in the World Showcase. Here we are clowning around in Epcot’s Canada Pavilion.
In 2007, Disney changed the design of its resort toiletries. Here is the bath soap.
I’m using this soap now, so I was able to open it and get a shot of the Mickey Mouse profile carved in each bar. I’m surprised at how long this soap is lasting, seriously. I opened it up at least four weeks ago, and there’s still plenty left. And if anyone knows how much I love suds (I like A LOT), then you know this says a great deal about the fact that Disney puts soap bars in their hotels they’re pretty certain will outlast the average stay.
Here’s the matching facial soap and shampoo.
Half the fun of staying in one of WDW’s on-property resorts is the way the room’s amenities are presented. Here is what Nathan and I found upon check-in to Room 1721 of the Port Orleans Riverside Resort (Alligator Bayou side), September, 2007.
Our first night in Walt Disney World in 2007, Nathan and I had dinner at the Concourse Steakhouse in the Contemporary Resort; part of the magic of eating there was that the monorails whizzed in and out of the building while you dined. The Steakhouse, sadly, is gone now—it’s a huge quick-service area. I’m sure you still get all the magic of those speeding monorails above you, but let’s face it—there’s just no romance in a quick-service.
I got this toothbrush during my stay at the Contemporary Resort in Walt Disney World in August, 2008; mostly, I really loved the art on the box, which is why I never opened it up and used it. Given The Goodbye Project, however, I figured I had to let it go sometime, and so I used it on my August, 2011 trip to Austin, Texas, to visit my sister. I was surprised when I opened the box and the toothbrush was wrapped in plastic—and included a tiny (I do mean TINY!) tube of toothpaste. The toothbrush now sits in my travel kit, ready to accompany me on my next out-of-town jaunt.
Notice that the design of these packages matches that of the toothbrush. These are from my May, 2008 stay at the Polynesian Resort—however, I don’t think there was a design change from the 2007 packaging; rather, I think I remember reading someplace that WDW’s Deluxe Resorts (i.e., the Animal Kingdom, Beach Club, Boardwalk, Contemporary, Grand Floridian, Polynesian, Wilderness, and Yacht Club) carry a slightly higher quality brand of product and packaging (if anyone knows if this is true or not, please write to me).
A close-up of the 2008 Deluxe Resort soap.
A close-up of the 2008 Deluxe Resort lotion. In 2008, the shops in the Deluxe Resorts carried full-sized soaps, lotions, shampoos, conditioners, and shower gels for purchase…yes, I brought home a few full-sized ones to enjoy and used them up a long time ago!
Towel art in Room 3317 at the Polynesian Resort, May, 2008, where I got some of the Deluxe Resort soaps/shampoos pictured above.
My friends Jennifer Winston (now Mayette), left, Rob Mayette, center, accompanied me on that May 2008 trip to the Polynesian. Here is a shot of us getting ready to go to the Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show. The pair got engaged on that trip and were married in 2009.
A spread of the toiletries in Contemporary Resort Room 4428 (in the A-frame tower). My friend Meghan and I stayed in that room in August, 2008.
My Goddard College buddy Meghan, right, and I raise a toast at a bar in the Polynesian Resort, August, 2008. We arrived during a hurricane, and it was raining, so we decided to “Drink Around the Monorail Line”—meaning ride the loop among the Contemporary, Polynesian, and Grand Floridian and stop at each bar for a cocktail. It really was a lot of fun—and the next day, despite the fact that it was raining, we went to the Magic Kingdom and there were NO LINES. We did like nine E-Tickets in something like an hour and a half. Amazing.
If you’ve ever bought stuff at The Body Shop, then you know you never walk out without some neat little samples of their newest products. My friend Heather, from my college years at the University of Rhode Island, and I splurged on stuff at The Body Shop every time I visited Newport for several years (that store is closed now). I’m just starting to rip through the hefty stack of samples now.
A display of all the stuff I bought at The Body Shop on an August, 2008 trip to Newport.
Me on the beach in Newport, RI, August, 2008. I believe this was after we’d done our ritual shopping spree.
Heather on the beach in Newport, RI, August, 2008.
These were in my hotel room in Miami in May, 2009; I went there for a four-day writer’s conference at Miami-Dade College.
The pool at my hotel in Miami, May, 2009, where I got the LaSource toiletries.
Me, left, with writers Rashena Wilson, Steve Almond, Tamara Linse, and Nikki Naseer at The Writer’s Institute at Miami Dade College, Miami, Florida, May, 2009.
This massage bar came from Room 645 at the Hyatt Place in Uncasville, Connecticut, just a few miles from Mohegan Sun. My brother Chuck treated Nathan and I to an overnight there for my 40th birthday this past February, so every time I see this soap in the box, I think of that awesome weekend.
Our room at the Hyatt Place in Uncasville, February 5, 2011.
Here’s where the massage bar was displayed. We used the other products while staying there, so I never brought anything else home.
From left, Nathan, my sister-in-law Sana, my brother Chuck, and I enjoy a drink at Leffingwell’s (yes, the crystal mountain) at Mohegan Sun casino in celebration of my 40th, February 5, 2011.
A ghost story writer who still sleeps with the lights on, Kristi Petersen Schoonover’s fiction has appeared in many magazines and anthologies; her traditionally published books include a short story collection, THE SHADOWS BEHIND. She was the recipient of three Norman Mailer Writers Colony Residencies and holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College. She serves as co-host of the DARK DISCUSSIONS podcast, as founding editor of the dark literary journal 34 ORCHARD, and is a member of both the New England Horror Writers and the Horror Writers Association. Follow her adventures at kristipetersenschoonover.com.