Wednesday, February 11, 2009


I had a very hard time today trying to say anything else. I went with my friends Kat and Shelly to see the house that they recently inherited from their good friend who passed away three weeks ago. I really should have had my camera with me.

The house itself was unique. Without photos or the interest in trying to describe it in detail, I will leave it at this: Two separate additions. Two separate, unconnected basements. A jacuzzi spa with a room built around it. Anyone ever been to the Winchester Mystery House? I think this was the Lake Forest Park version. Only I got to tour it for free, at my own pace, and my friends let me open the cupboards and drawers and check out their contents. This is something you don't usually get to do in other peoples' houses. And there's a reason for that. It made me feel uncomfortable, and it made my brain hurt.

These particular homeowners had been collectors. Stamp collectors, coin collectors, tupperware collectors. Collectors of items involving giraffes. Involving elephants. I counted over eight desks in the house, each with drawers full of desky items like paper clips, cigarette lighters, mystery envelopes and photographs. There was a four-car garage that featured Christmas decorations, hula hoops and many, many tools around the perimeter, and big piles of boxes and bags of stuff already identified as Goodwill-bound in the middle. My friends offered me one of the two croquet sets. How did they come to have two? We'll never know.

I never met the women who had shared their lives in the house. They'd made the additions to the house. They had selected the objects to fill it. Decided that the sliding glass door was the perfect solution to their remodeling problem. Chosen that collection of dining room chairs. Was this giraffe-themed mug (one of so many) a gift from someone who knew she loved giraffes and had no better idea of what to get her for Christmas-- a holiday I could easily tell that she loved?

The volume of stuff to go through is daunting, and it's now my friends' full-time job. There are the various things willed to other friends and family members still lingering, but that's really relatively little. There are rooms and rooms piled high with things, stuff and junk to find new homes for or throw out. I got to take home a fifth of rum, and some foodstuffs that had been purchased within the last year--some cans of bamboo shoots, some boxes of sugar-free jello. But this bottle of Certo was the real prize. It's clear that it used to be pectin in the form of a liquid, because really-- why else would it be in a bottle? But turning the bottle on its side reveals no movement of the pectin. If its purpose is to gel, it has gelled. And judging by the expiration date on the side of the bottle, it gelled a long time ago, back when the ladies were both alive, in love, and probably not imagining that there was a sixth grader out there who would find this and take it home someday.

1 comment:

  1. This reminds me of when I used to belong to the AME Church here in Hutchinson, and was one of a number of people who helped clean out the house of an ancient lady who was a member of the church and died with no surviving relatives. I had that feeling about going through her things. Wow, indeed. Time, mortality, the evanescence of things. Crikey.