Preserving Our Past For The Future

Scanning the yard sale ads this past week, I saw one that caught my eye. The ad read “Moving sale, everything needs to sell. Flat screen TVS. Stereo, House full of furniture, 16 ft fishing boat, Honda Civic, China cabinet, large desk filing cab, printers, laptops, washer and dryer and a brand new deep freezer and much more. ” It sounded interesting enough to make the trip out, especially the house of furniture part, so I set out the next morning to check it out. When I arrived at the home, there was a sign on the door “open at noon.” I looked at my watch, the time was normal “business hours” for a sale, 8 a.m. A little miffed, I got back in the car and drove away fussily thinking ” I may or may not make the trip back. They couldn’t even get organized enough to put a time on the sale ad and then ended up having it the middle of the darned day.”

But as the morning wore on and noon approached I saw a clear path to go again, and headed back out. It was an inside and outside sale, so I entered the home. It was not well-lit, reeked of smoke, and stank of pet urine. Being a former cleaning lady, I was used to all those smells, but didn’t know if there would really be anything of value here for my estate clients. But I was already here, so I moved further inside. A yappy little chihuahua in a doggie muscle shirt named Bruce Lee was all around my feet immediately, and a young woman with an entire set of black front teeth called out from the kitchen “Come on in and look around, we are open”. I guess she felt I warranted that information due to the obvious question mark on my face.  It looked as if everything was still in progress as far as living there…cigarette butts in the ashtrays, you could tell they had been eating in the kitchen and den, nothing looked staged or set up, nothing priced or gathered together, it was just a come as you are party atmosphere. I thought to myself…strike two.

I wandered around in the kitchen, then the dining room and finally into the main room and did find a few things to ask prices on. They were planning to get things labeled, but that hadn’t happened like she wanted, so I told her I would pile it all up and she could tell me at the end. Out the front window I had seen others start to pull up so I knew there would be a flurry soon of people pulling items together and I didn’t want to miss out on anything that might actually be of interest to me.

Down the hallway all the doors leading to the bedrooms were closed and I heard a BIG dog barking. “Are there items in there too?” I asked, remembering the words of the ad. “No, I think my son (motioning to someone coming up behind me) got everything out of the back already.” As I turned I was shocked to see the young man she was talking about. He was about 15 or 16, beautiful smiling face, clean and neat teenaged style attire. “I can help you with anything ma’am, I am pricing things and will help you get it to your car, too.” This person looked totally out of character for the picture I was seeing in this home like some kind of jigsaw puzzle piece that sort of looked like it fit, but just wouldn’t quite complete the picture properly.

As the next several minutes went by and people filed in and out, I gathered my items and pretty much kept to myself. But I couldn’t help but hear the woman tell bit by bit the reasons they were moving. Her husband had left her four days before, cleaned out the bank accounts and left her with no money, no way to make the impending rent and the landlord had caught wind of all of it and given them three days to vacate. The other people she talked to were very accommodating in response, a lot of “there, there, you will be alright” was heard…but I was watching the young man. He never disputed what was said, but I could tell as certain quiet looks came across his face, that was not the whole story. And I had a sad feeling knowing this beautiful, polite boy was going to help his needy mother sell all their belongings, pack up a few personal items in a car, and leave his friends and his life for what? Probably more of the same.

I was even sadder when I realized the father had evicted the mother out of his own life and marriage the same way the landlord was evicting her out of the home…and this young boy was suffering eviction that was not of his own making and was expected to leave everything behind and go because he was underage. This young man had experienced strikes one, two and three a long, long time ago. I had to wonder if he had possessed the power if he would have evicted himself a long time ago from all of it. Or was he was like myself and many others…unable to evict ourselves from a situation or circumstance we had become enmeshed in, blinded to the fact it was no longer serving us well.

In my life, I have been fortunate in my pursuit of interests and have learned many skills and participated in a lot of wonderfully interesting experiences. Many of those were made up of following the path of a current adrenaline-rushing passion. And the passions and pursuits have all varied greatly, which I guess if I believed in astrology, would be attributed to the stereotype of the Gemini, which I was “born under” and it actually does seem to fit. Flip-flopping from one adventure to another, chasing a big idea, dabbling in this and directing that, my life has been short spurts of gathering lines on a resume of sorts. I have been chatting with someone so many times in the past, remarking on one thing or another and how I was involved in this or that, and they will look at me in wonder, and say “Is there anything you HAVEN’T done?” It makes me chuckle a bit, and then I do seem to reflect a moment on what I have been exposed to and how much I have actually been a part of and collected in experience. And the funny thing is, I felt at home in every single situation. It wasn’t a fly into and out of plan on anything I did. I would think about it, have the opportunity to present itself, stay with it to the end of the current pursuit, then move on to my next one. I tend to be a bit visionary and also a big multi-tasker, so this is not really beyond my ken flitting from one thing to another and still maintaining composure, getting things accomplished and embracing the whole thing when it comes to learning a new job or hobby or pretty much anything I set my mind about.

I have done many things from catering to cleaning, directing choirs to writing as a freelancer. There has been crafting for money, speaking for ladies’ groups, traveling as a gospel singer, homeschooling my only child, leading a diet group, working as a teacher’s aide and the list goes on and on. And in each case it was always the same…I was always full in, always on board, always ready to conquer the thing. And many times I did get it conquered, but there were just as many times it almost conquered me because I refused to leave before I thought I was done, even if the handwriting was on the wall long before and the eviction papers had been served.

Having a bulldog mentality and personality can be very good…but at other times it can be lethal. There were certain times I hung on too long, stayed where I was past the time it was beneficial to me, or made some poor choices in my associations and decisions about how to go forward at any given time. The one thing I never did was remove myself from the situation or pursuit until I felt like I had done all and been all, and in many instances, the “pursuit” itself was finally forced to evict me when it limped to its bitter end or reached its usefulness quotient. Sad to say, that didn’t always work for me or benefit the rest of my life and the people in it. There were times I should have said goodbye to something or someone long before my own life got to a point of telling me to hit the road, so to speak, by bringing chaos and confusion into my life, introducing weird characters and situations into my daily routine, or draining me of my own unique essence until I had no other choice but to let myself get evicted by default. Like unwanted guests, I allowed myself to stay somewhere that I was no longer needed or wanted when it would have been so much better to serve myself eviction papers when the first signs of dysfunction presented itself and just move on.

Who we are today is the sum total of who we have been and what we have done all of our lives up to this point…this is a true statement. But one has to wonder…what would the beautiful boy be doing “now” if he had evicted himself “then”? I often wonder where would I be, and with whom, and doing what if I had not waited till the last minute to move on from those unfruitful places but had put something down and moved on in a more timely fashion.  Today, I have a great desire to be a good landlord of my own life, but how?  If the time comes that someone or something is not contributing to the rent, I have to resolve to step up, make a big ole fist, and start knocking on my own front door first. After all, it’s my job as landlord to hold me to my own lease on life.



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