Cars are lined up and down the street. People, mostly strangers to each other, are walking to and from those cars into the house of another total stranger. And they are just buying up her life, even in death.
There is an estate sale going on in my neighborhood and as I walked to and from picking up my morning coffee the magnitude of the moment kind of hit me.
It’s gray and dark outside, kind of spitting some rain, and I thought, “What a perfect mood for what’s going on.”
A woman’s life is being torn apart, sold away piece by piece, $10 here … $20 there … a couple hundred dollars for the bigger items.
There’s nothing she can do about it, of course. She’s gone.
A thousand moons ago, back when I was a married man, my Then Wife lost her grandmother.
Factions of the family actually fought over certain items in the home and I remember how much that bothered and upset her, to see her family being pulled apart, rather than coming together in the wake of death.
That’s what life comes down to you when you’re gone, I suppose. Just a pile of items for people to pick over. What’s left over is put up for sale. After that? Maybe some stuff gets donated to certain charities, maybe the rest gets sent to the dump.
To me, walking past all those cars, looking up the street and seeing the people coming and going, the sadness of the moment just kind of hit me. (Christ, I hate getting old).
How in the first 49-plus years of my life did the magnitude of an estate sale not hit me?
A woman’s life is being put up for sale (probably after the family did grab a few things they wanted), picked over like a holiday turkey by people who wander into a homeless shelter.
Some of those strangers, I suppose, will find something — a hidden gem buried in the items that are up for sale — and walk away thankful for whatever they bought, but I can’t help but think of the lady who lived there, who called that house a home and lived amongst all those items.
I look around my own humble abode and think about my own death.
The first thing that morbidly pops into my head is, “I wonder who will find me?” Probably the landlords once the smell becomes too much, I suppose.
But what about my junk? My wide screen television? My iPad? The iMac I’m typing on right now? My camera gear? My books? My new bed? My PS4? The ties that hang from my wall, waiting for the next UConn basketball game or … well, I suppose, a funeral?
Should I pick one out to wear now in my coffin?
(Sidebar, your honor — I plan on being cremated, no tie necessary).
I suppose once I’m dead, I won’t care what happens to my stuff. I won’t need it anymore. Right?
I just don’t want some stranger coming into my home, putting little tiny stickers on each and every item — what somebody thinks something is worth — and having random strangers buy it.
Gift it to charity. Send it to the dump.
Better yet, put it all in a big pile and have a nice little bonfire with free beers for all my friends who want to come by and tip one back and tell nice stories about me.
Oh wait, no friends and too few nice stories might be told. (Or, what if you threw a bonfire and nobody showed up? … Except for maybe the fire department.)
Fuck it. Just burn it.
Bury the ashes with me, that way I’ll always have my stuff with me — even in death.
The late great George Carlin once said, “A house is just a place to keep your stuff while you go out and get more stuff.”
It’s funny because it’s true.
But I’m not smiling this morning.
I keep thinking of that woman and her house, and all that stuff that she kept because it meant something to her.