Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Estate Sale

Over and over and over…… I can’t stay away!

On Wednesday at lunch with my friend, Dena, she told me that there was an estate sale not far from Social Circle. Would I like to go to it with her after lunch? Sure! I’d never been to one, and I was curious.

As we followed the signs to the sale, I realized that it was being held at a home a mile from where I live, and one that Diamond and I pass everyday on our walk. I have admired this home and acreage from a distance ever since we’ve been in Social Circle, and I was excited more about going inside the home than in the sale itself. From the For Sale flyer that I had picked up when the house first went onto the market a couple of months ago, I knew that it was one of those homes that had been added onto over the years and the center of the home had originally been a log cabin. I could hardly wait to get out of the car to take a look at it.

From the moment I stepped into the house, which smelled of a mixture of musty air, mildew, pets, and old fireplace smoke, all of my senses went into overdrive, including my emotions. As Dena and I walked through the rooms, admiring the wood beams from the original log structure, to all of the collections this family had, I was overcome with a sense of sadness. Here was a family’s life on display, and everything had a price tag on it. I felt like an intruder. The house itself was fascinating, and on my first run through it, I hardly noticed all of the treasures for sale, but felt the presence of a family who no longer lived there. It was a lovely house, and I secretly wished I were rich enough to afford to buy the entire thing – house, land, horse stables, everything!

On my second round, I discovered something I’ve been looking for. For the past six years, ever since moving into our home, I’ve wanted a sofa. I couldn’t afford a new one, so my eyes were always peeled for a good second-hand one that would fit into my barn home. In the corner of one of the rooms in this house sat a burgundy leather sofa and matching loveseat. I hadn’t ever considered leather, but the moment I sat down on this one, I was in heaven. I was elevated to an even higher cloud when Dena pointed out to me that not only was it a sofa, but it was a double recliner. The price was right, as well, well within the limits of the money I’d stashed away years ago for my new sofa. I could hardly wait for Dena to pay for her purchases, so that I could go home and bring Phil back to look at my discovery.

An hour later, I was back at the house, with Phil in tow and a wad of cash in my pocket to look at the sofa again. He liked it! He also liked the matching loveseat, which was also a double recliner, and we made a deal to buy the set. Once this decision was made, and we claimed both pieces as ours, we began looking more closely at the other things for sale. Phil found a huge box full of baseball caps and purchased the entire box. We examined the shelves of books, and found two old, old books to add to our own library. We also stopped to admire the shelves of stuffed animals and music boxes that were part of someone’s collection. Out in one of the sheds, Phil found some tools he wanted and an old fishing tackle box.

On Thursday, I didn’t go back to the sale, but the house was on my mind all day long. That afternoon, a couple of friends went with Phil to pick up our furniture, and he returned with not only my new sofa and loveseat, but with an electric meat slicer that would serve as a bread slicer. I was thrilled! When I began cleaning the leather, I found a dog’s collar and ball, two dish towels, and some change hidden in the cushions. What a treasure!

Friday morning found me and my little Honda driving up the long driveway one more time. The sense of sadness was more intense as I walked through the rooms once again, noting all of the items now missing. The huge “Gone With the Wind” collection was gone. In one bedroom, a woman was going through clothes hanging in a closet, and in another a couple was discussing whether a chest of drawers would fit into a certain space in their home. I stopped at the stuffed animal display, and selected a cute bunny rabbit with the original tag still on it. I then went to the shelf of music boxes and chose one with little animals that moved in a circle when the music played. As I was paying for my purchases, the auctioneer told me a little about the family who had lived there. I was surprised to learn that they had no children. All of the music boxes and stuffed animals were the collection of the woman, and the man was a Nascar lover with collections of caps, matchbox racecars, and beer paraphernalia. I had originally pictured in my mind grandchildren running through the house, and a grandma and grandpa who had all of these lovely things in their home for the enjoyment of children. My perspective shifted drastically, and my sadness deepened even more.

As Diamond and I walked past the home yesterday afternoon on our walk, I paused to look across the pasture with horses grazing to the home I had been so curious about. I thought about life and how we live for a short time, surround ourselves with things we love, want, and need, and then we’re gone, leaving all of the things for people like me to pick up and take home to our own lives. I wondered who the next family to live in the house would be, and how they would fill their house. Would it be filled with things, children, memories?

I now am connected to these people I never met. They are gone, but I will think about them as I enjoy my new furniture and slice my homemade bread. As for the music box and stuffed bunny rabbit? I am giving these to my little friend Lillie. They need to be in the hands of a child to love and enjoy.

Today is the last day of the estate sale. I am wondering as I write if I’ll go back today for one last walk through the house. I probably will. It is pulling me toward it, not because I want to buy something more, but because the spirits there still have something to say to me.