19 November 2012

A Weekend In The Country

I'm not sure that there is anything more exhausting than spending three days on your feet selling the contents of the house you grew up in to friends and strangers. It is also cathartic, sad, funny, and odd. But most of all, it's exhausting. I got home at 7:00 last night, and was in bed by 8:00.

While the chief proprietors of the estate sale were me and my two siblings, lovely friends came and helped out, like the (gay male) matron-of-honor from my wedding, and my (also has a blog) best friend from college. Neighbors floated in and out, bearing cream cheese be-smeared bagels and pumpkin oatmeal cookies. Old friends carted away trinkets and clocks. More than one person needed stuff to replace stuff lost in the hurricane. A lady bought two percolators and two coffee grinders, and told me she was going to mail them to family in South America - so my sister threw in some coffee filters. One woman was the first one in the door on Saturday morning, and berated us because the cast iron skillet she'd seen hanging on the wall (in a picture on the internet) was no longer there. Sorry, lady, we sold it! You should have come on Friday!

Friends from inside the computer showed up - and tweeted and blogged about their purchases. Nice to have seen you, Jean! Great to have met you, George! Thanks for hanging out, Heidi! Glad you got that shell, Jane!

A strange woman came up to me and told me that Kathy from California had sent her. I was momentarily flustered, until the gears clicked into place and I blurted out "Kathy With Cats"? Yup - someone I know on Facebook had forwarded a link to a friend of hers who lived not too far away. It was like Kathy by proxy.

Tom came a couple of times and bought a mess of stuff. I'm sure he made out like a bandit, but whatev. Somehow, I can't remember why, he ended up with my phone number. My cell rang at about 9 on Saturday night; it was Tom. "I unpacked all my stuff, and remember that little pepper mill? It's not there. Remember that guy who picked it up from my pile? I think he boosted it." Tom wasn't calling to ask for his money back or anything - he was calling to caution us about the people who don't want to pay for anything, "they boost stuff all the time". [There was a little racial profiling going on, but his impulse was well-meant.]

Amanda came a couple of times and told us her entire sordid life story, and bought a mess of stuff. She might have boosted something; we know she dug the sterling ice bucket out of the liquor cabinet, but we reclaimed it.

Tracy came back three times, the first two times buying for her boyfriend, the third time WITH her boyfriend. They were great and enthusiastic and charming. Also, I loved her raincoat. They probably took us for a ride too, but again, whatev.

My high school flute teacher bought my grandmother's punch bowl and its dozen matching cups. Someone I babysat for bought the dresser from the front hall. Darius, who I'd never met before, but whose sister went to college with the woman I babysat for, asked me if I thought he could sew a cell phone case from a piece of leather he scrounged up. I told him how, and gave him the leather.

When we weren't selling and schlepping and talking and learning the names of almost every single buyer, we were running up to Starbucks and the train station and nailing signs to trees. Starbucks was supposed to be open at 6 on Sunday morning but when we got there at ten to 7, they were locked up tight - with all the lights on. I banged on the door, needing that double shot skim latte, stat. Finally, a woman came to the door. Apologetically, she told us she couldn't let us in, because no one else had shown up to work. But she took our orders, locked the door again, made the coffee, and came back with the two cups. Free! Brownie points to Starbucks for doing the right thing.

And in a fit of debauchery after dark, we drove around town with a slit-open dead feather pillow, sprinkling feathers up and down the streets, hoping people would think some chickens had run amok. Some of them are still there.

Almost. We're almost done.


the queen said...

I need to thank my brother for driving off in uhaul with most of moms stuff.

heidi said...

Friggin Faerie Freaks with Feathers Freaked me the Frig OUT.
THAT aside, It was so hard not to get caught up in it all. But great to steal a few more moments that beautiful, spirited house.

RuthWells said...

What a difficult thing to do. I dread the eventual day. Free coffee is such a blessing at times like these.

jo(e) said...

I like that you learned the names of the folks who bought stuff.

And that you scattered feathers throughout the town!

Bibliomama said...

Trust you to cobble up a beautiful patchwork post out of a harrowing experience. The feather thing? Sheer genius.

Kizz said...

I'm glad you're taking notes because I'm going to need your help when my mom's estate is finally for sale.

modernemama said...

Feathering the neighborhood–love it!

Jennifer Denise Ouellette said...

For me it was such a relief to have it done. Three months of almost-daily sifting through the contents was draining to me.

I totally would have bought the punch bowl set.

Jeanne said...

It's been 2-1/2 years since the contents of my childhood home were sold. The good thing about it, afterwards, is that you're not wondering where "that...whatever" got to. After a while, it feels lighter that the stuff exists now only in memory (and in the few pieces you could keep).

Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

I love this post.

This summer my in-laws sold their house in the country. They sold it furnished, but even still a lot needed relocating. The "stuff" was easy to get rid of; the nicer things were hard. Three of the four children in that family live in small apartments; we are the only ones with a house; so they wanted to give it all to us - but, you know, we've been married 13 years. Our house is already full.

My in-laws were right there with us, cleaning out that house, but it was still emotionally charged.

Mayberry said...

It sounds exhausting in every way, but I'm glad many things found new homes.

alejna said...

This sounds exhausting, but it made for a wonderful story. There was so much to love about this post.

I am quite taken with the mental images I get from your feathery debauchery. (And the photo of the feather is lovely, too.)

So glad for you that you are almost done. Yet a bit sad, too. I have enjoyed reading about (and seeing pictures of) the many treasures and oddities you came across in that house. The stories and photos would make for a great book.

Unknown said...

There is something very fitting that a teacher of flutists now has the punch bowl and cups. Makes me think there are still recitals going on in the world - Bully!

Unknown said...

Since we're telling stories - it's time for the world to know that the "feather dusting" Reid Avenue and its fringes have been practiced by the Crist sisters for many years with much leaping, flourishes and turning. The birds never seemed to mind, so you should enjoy the memory too!

Hugh Manaty said...

Oh gosh this sounds crazy but I saw that house and I feel like I missed something. I wish I'd come and helped.

You sound OK about it.