Saturday, January 23, 2010

In Which I Am Introspective

I went to an estate sale today. Alone. (Just pause to ponder that for a moment - Karen left her house all by her own self!)

The sale was in a little, tiny really, house. With steep stairs up (bedroom and attic) and treacherous stairs down (surprisingly spacious basement). This house is no one's immediate visual of an "estate". It was, quite obviously, a grandparent's house. Someone who survived a Great Depression, at least one World War, and who knows how many personal hard times.

How do I know this? The stuff. Oh, the stuff. It was everywhere. There was barely a path to walk from room to room without stepping on stuff. Ancient boxes of groceries. More aluminum foil than one person could use in a lifetime. Bottles of shampoo. Magazines from thirty years ago. Beautiful china and...not so beautiful things. Things that are now considered collectible right beside things that should be tossed into the nearest dumpster.

I walked into the house and immediately felt sad. Wall to wall people pawed, generally quietly, through dresser drawers, cardboard boxes, and laundry baskets. My fellow estate-sale-goers speculated aloud to themselves about the former owners. We wondered about the family whose burden this had become.

"Oh, Lord, help me not to leave my family this kind of mess," I thought to myself. Stockpile? Yes. Hoarding baking soda? No. Buying new dishes? Yes, sometimes. Saving all the old ones? Nope. Keeping precious keepsakes? Yes, of course. Keeping everything? Not a chance.

And yes, because I know you are wondering, I did buy a few things: 1 pack of vintage Christmas bulbs (they were cute), 25+ old fashioned wooden clothespins (the non-spring kind), 5 LPs, 1 tiny glass bottle, 1 old pan (to carry my clothespins, not because I wanted it) and 1 beautiful china blue and white Wedgwood teacup to replace mine that, ahem, someone broke not too long ago.

A man watched me sort through all the records. "Trouble is, no one has a turntable any more," he said. "I do," I told him. He looked me over again. I could see what he thought. "You could buy one at Target, if you want one," I said (ever helpful). He walked away before I could wax rhapsodic on the wonders of my beloved Crosley.

When I filled my little pan with wooden clothespins a woman said to me, "Do you hang clothes on a line?"

"Yes, in the summer," I told her. She smiled at me. "I didn't think anyone did that any more."

Ah, yes, vintage-loving, frugalite, young-ish person here, guilty as charged. But I hope none of the things I collect, use, and love ever end up owning me rather than the other way around.

After all, it's only stuff.


Karin said...

That's my middle daughter - a love for old things that I would probably chuck. After all, why buy new, when the old will do. And you're right - it's only stuff and I don't care much for clutter!

Jessica said...

I really enjoyed this post! :) Thanks Karen!

Tarah said...

Great post Karen! I wish more people would take the time to experience the joy that the vintage ways of life can bring. Oh, and I would very much like to see a picture of your teacup! :)

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