wwcitizen: (Long Road Ahead)
These past few autumn weekends, there have been times in the morning or late afternoon that we have had the windows open at the kitchen table. Light, cool breezes whip the blinds about making a friendly "tack-tack... tack... tack tack". We are sitting at the kitchen table reading through our news feeds or looking up recipes for that evening's dinner.

It's around these quiet times of day when I hear familiar distant sounds that tug at my soul. These specific sounds are off the in the distance, so I cannot see what is making the sound, which further tugs on me. At each occurrence, I want to run to the office to post about these distant sounds.

These sounds always bring forth throngs of memories. Some sounds even remind me of smells, such as hanging out the laundry mid-afternoon or passing by barns where the smell pork curing sneaks onto the sidewalk. Other sounds make me want to book a trip somewhere or just get in my car for a spontaneous road trip! Most of the sounds remind me of my grandmother or my childhood.

Every time these sounds occur, we are sitting quietly in the house. I suppose at those moments of focus and stillness that my soul is most willing to listen. I'm probably most present in that stillness.

Each sound is unique. Each memory is unique. The season of the memory or place the sound takes me to is fairly distinct each time. I love those distant sounds.
wwcitizen: (Uuuuuuh)
This last weekend was stupendous. Stupendous because my company allowed me to spend a weekend driving a Fire Sand 2013 F-Type Jaguar (V6 Supercharged) convertible. Driving that car was an amazing experience. What’s even more exciting is that when this project contract began for me working at Jaguar Land Rover North America, that particular F-Type completely captured me.

One day after I parked my Passat to go into work, I noticed that F-Type for the first time. Why? Because it was a Fire Sand F-Type convertible. "Fire Sand" is a cool term for "burnt orange" or "pumpkin". The color is totally intriguing and the body of the car captivated me completely - it looks like an animal. I took 5 or 6 pictures of the car as if it was parked on some side street in Chelsea (something I’ve done, btw).  On my way home that same evening, I mentioned to Matthew, “I just wanna drive that car for a day. Just one day. Is that too much to ask?”

Well, this past weekend, I did just that!  I had won a raffle at a company meeting a couple of months ago; 12 winners of the raffle would be able to drive a company car (a Jag or a Land Rover/Range Rover) for a weekend. I was one of the winners!

Over those three weekend days, I drove at least 500 miles.  Plus, I drove at least a total of 26 hours – just over a day’s worth of driving. Apparently, “Just one day,” isn’t too much to ask! I got my full day of driving just as I had wished and I got to see the car parked in my space for the weekend (I had to leave my Passat parked in the company parking lot for the weekend. More on that on a later, different post…).

At the initial button push, the Jag growled at me when he started up; his grin was tangible. He had me before the first growl. He had been waiting for me to get inside and push his buttons since my eyes squinted at the sun sparkling off his curves the first time. He wanted to be driven. He clearly didn’t want to sit still or be parked.  I brought his top down and pulled out of the parking space, When I rounded the first corner, he seemed to want more of that curve, so I gunned the engine a bit, He smiled and ate that curve in one bite. And then the next one: CHOMP! He was looking forward to the weekend as much as I was.

I pulled up to get Matthew from work (who now works about 5 miles from my office).  Matthew told me later that EVERYONE walking out of that office building was staring at the car. I didn’t notice them because I was looking at everything in the car – the controls, the lights, windows, the mirrors, and the radio.  Matthew was beaming because he knew I was excited for the weekend.  He got in and put on his seat belt. I asked him one simple question: “Are you ready?”

“For what?” he countered.
I asked him again: “Are you ready?”
“Uh. Yes?” he said apprehensively.

Making sure no one was in front of me, I took off toward the edge of the parking lot. Fire Sand snapped our heads back against our head rests.

“OH JESUS!” Matthew exclaimed. “SLOW DOWN!”
“I’m only going 15 miles an hour, grandpa.”
(^^ That exchange repeated itself quite frequently over the course of the weekend…)

When we were leaving the office park, getting onto Interstate 287 South for a bit and back onto 17 South to go home, there’s a very fun curve and Matthew almost shit a couple of bricks as we rounded it.  The suggested speed around the curve was a measly 25… my boy wanted to take it at about 35 MPH. So, I gave it to him and then some.

All the cars on 287S saw me coming onto the road and slowed down (or was I going faster than them?).  I got across the four lanes to the left quite safely, but quickly because 17S comes up right after that curve. 

BOOM! We were on 17S heading home.  All the way down 17S and eventually onto I-80E (another Interstate highway), so many people could not keep their eyes off the car. A couple of handsome guys in fun cars (not sports cars, though) raced up to meet my car. They safely kept their eye on the road in front of them, but checked out the car, me, Matthew, the car, me, and then gave me the thumbs up or an “OK” sign with BIG smiles.

We pulled into our building about 30 minutes later and I was able to dash in, change clothes, and head back out to drive down to visit my buddy Joey for dinner. The drive down, with the top down, was almost fully on the NJ Turnpike all the way down. I picked up Joey and we raced off to Princeton.

The best part about all of those routes was that I could drive at least 65. I positioned myself with traffic, so that I didn’t stand out. I also used my cruise control quite a lot, so that I didn’t inadvertently go over the speed limit.  At 65 MPH, it felt as though he was plodding along at about 30 MPH – he even yawned a couple of times when I sped up to pass someone. 

Cops didn’t seem interested in the car at all, which was just fine with me.  Someone at work told me that cops “respect” Jaguars due to the owners/drivers of Jaguars or something, but I noticed that cops – the entire weekend – were uninterested in the car.  I had always heard that if you drive a sports car, beware of cops. So, I was paying attention. I mean, I wasn’t driving erratically, recklessly, or exceptionally fast (except for that one time…). So, there was no real reason for them to approach me as it was. Still, that warning was playing in my head all weekend, which was probably a good thing – given my history with speeding tickets from when I was in high school (different story for a different post…).

Saturday was the friends tour. I drove to four different friends’ houses to show them the car and give them a ride. A couple of them live close to highways, so I was able to show them a little of what the car could do. One of them had never been in a convertible, much less and actual sports car. Two friends weren’t home, so I took a picture of the car in front of their house; at least their house got to see the car!

By Sunday, Matthew had plotted out a route for us to drive up to New Paltz and Kingston, NY, that included highways and country roads. He found a marina for us to visit, a resort (that we might want to return to for dinner, at least), and in the end, I chose for us to return home a different route than how we got to our destination; I-87 (the NY Thruway) was really backed up close to the NJ/NY border and we would have been stuck in tons of traffic. 

Along the way up there and back, there were lots and lots of twists and turns, hairpin curves, mountains, big hills, river vistas, and plenty of onlookers. We had a great time driving all over the place! Here’s a snippet of some of the roads and terrain we traversed along our road trip on Sunday.

Mountain Curves
Hairpin CurvesPalisades Pkwy
Monday morning came a little too quickly when I had to turn him back into the company. He’s been sitting in the same place since I parked him there. Feels like he’s looking at me, winking, and saying, “Ask for another weekend. C’mon! Let’s go!” 

Over the weekend, I took a ton of photos. Here’s a smaller collection of the best of the best from all that driving. We unfortunately had to stop from time to time, of course.

Part of me wishes that hot, fast Fire Sand cat was mine. The other, more practical part of me sat back with a sigh into my 2004 Passat, who’s paid for and running just fine, and drove to pick up Matthew after work. I didn’t really try to push my old guy too far, but from his brakes, I could tell he wasn’t too happy I left him for a hotter, younger, faster guy for a weekend fling.  He’ll get over it.
wwcitizen: (Pumpkins)
Friends of ours and we went to the NY Renaissance Faire on Sunday in Tuxedo, NY. We'd all been there before, but it was a few years ago and never all together in a big group. This was really fun because there were six of us all with different interests - except for the food. We all enjoyed the meats and the mead as well as some beer.

One of my goals was to get some new Renaissance garb for my mediocre "collection". Clarification: I do not intend or want to become a Ren Faire aficionado... ever. I enjoy using the pieces for dress up at Halloween. In fact, the last bits I bought were for my costume in 2008 when Matthew and I went to Disney for Halloween.  So, that was my goal.

Problem with this year was that yesterday (Sunday) was the very last day of the festival. All the shopkeepers were tired and ready to be done with it all. They were clearly and verbally exhausted (a few of them actually told me directly how exhausted they were and to "help myself" in looking around and trying things on).  One of the shops I just left outright because, even though I'd spent a good 20 minutes looking through stuff and trying things on - clearly trying to buy something - the shopkeepers just couldn't be bothered. There were three of them and when I asked them a question, not only did they kind of look through me after I asked them something, but then one of them - finally - answered with this very quiet, timid voice that I had to lean in to hear because of some noise from outside.  VERY irritating.

In the end, I got some horns, a new doublet (being altered), some loungey pants, a mask, and LOTS and LOTS of great food - even a turkey leg!  I proceeded to wear my new horns to dinner at a diner on the way home. That afforded me lots of fun attention from the wait staff, adults, and kids alike. Some of the adults had kid-like expressions on their faces, even, after their double and triple takes.  Fun!
wwcitizen: (S&M In Ptown)

The subject covers two aspects of Ptown: 1) Provincetown, MA, in the winter when tourists aren't around... and 2) Matthew acting in an episode of a TV show called Off Season.
It's exciting to be in Ptown in the winter! We had a big, blustery, SNOWY winter storm Sunday - all day. And we made the absolute best of the day. We got up late and played on our pads for a while. The snow outside piled up to about 10"!!  Eventually, I dug us out to the road. Not a big deal, since the snow was fresh and light. But I had a small, trunk-ready shovel, so I had to be careful not to throw out my back. :-)
On Saturday, we drove around and took pictures, but it was dreary and rainy. We had our postponed anniversary dinner at Ross's Grille, which was fantastic! To drink, we had a bottle of Pouilly-Fuissé Chardonnay. For dinner, it was raw oysters first, then locally sourced, sauteed mussels & clams - delicious broths! Our entrees were the Cape Cod Seafood Stew.  The Off Season dictates what restaurants stay open throughout the season, and which ones close for a while after the tourist season and WHEN they close before the tourist season starts up again.  Ross's Grille closed the day after our meal and we were served the last mussels, clams, and stews that they had. We really lucked out!
Sunday night, our dinner was at the Bistro @ Crowne Pointe, which is less than a block up the hill and has GREAT views of the Pilgrims' Monument, the Town Hall, and other historic buildings. We had Cake Chardonnay with deviled eggs, Italian bread, steamed mussels, and New England clam chowder for apps. Then, of course, we HAD to have a New England steamed lobster. Really great dinner, too.
Both nights we took in the "leftover" Ptown nightlife, which was light but fun and totally cozy. Most bars have a warm, cozy and glowing fireplace. The fireplaces reminded me of places in Germany, Austria, and Prague.
All throughout the weekend and in the weeks leading up to today, Matthew & I have been running over his lines over and over again.  It's been really fun.
Monday, we relaxed and got Matthew ready for one of his scenes. The shoot started at 3pm, so I drove around Ptown on my own to take pictures of the town with the snow. It was a bit disappointing because the incessant high winds blew away most of the snow in the course of the day.
I think I got some really great shots that capture the winter Provincetown, which most of the people that come to Bear Week every summer never see or can imagine.  Matthew hadn't messaged or called that he was done, so I went to the Governor Bradford pub for a glass of Chardonnay.  I had never been in that bar before; it's quite old and charming in its own right but I think there's no A/C in the summer, which is always the first and major deterrent.
While sipping my wine at the bar, I had probably the funniest experience ever by myself in Ptown - EVER!!: 4 fishermen in from their boats at the corner of the bar trying to outdo each other with their impressions of the Cowardly Lion from the Wizard of Oz. It was so difficult not to even crack a smile in the hopes that they wouldn't stop on my account and that they might take on other characters with their (pretty decent) impressions.
I made my way to the location of the shoot taking place in a restaurant that was new to us, Sage. Matt did an excellent acting job; members of the crew were very impressed and came to me tell me they were. *happy dance*
So, this trip we went to places and areas of town that we'd never visited before. We went to the Shipwrecked Lounge, the Porchside Lounge, The Little Bar at A-House, the Governor Bradford bar, the Squealing Pig, Sage, the town's US Post Office, the very end of Commercial St, and areas of the Province Lands and National Parks that were new to us.
All in all it's been amazing trip and it does not feel like 6 days. Given our druthers, Matt and I would probably want to stay until Sunday but he has to get back and teach on Thursday evening. Can't wait to review and post some pictures of Ptown in the winter!










wwcitizen: (Uuuuuuh)
Tonight on the way up the Cape to Provincetown, we both saw  a very bright falling star off in the distance.  It was really romantical and stuff.  We both sent out our separate wishes, but I'm fairly certain they weren't too different.  :-)
wwcitizen: (Broadway)
A good friend of ours from Toronto, Pascal, sent me a note last week that he was going to be in town for a couple of days. We hadn't seen Pascal or his partner in a couple of years. It was a nice surprise. Thing is, the only day he was going to be available for us to meet up was Sunday - yesterday - Mother's Day. The planets aligned and we were able to meet up with him and have a very spontaneous, very exciting day in NYC. 

Pascal suggested we go see The Best Man.  We quick looked up tickets for the matinee performance of The Best Man on Broadway and bought three. We bought extremely well-placed seats at 1:45PM for a 3:00PM performance (HURRY!); Pascal had just checked into his room (GO NOW!) and raced out as we raced out of our place in NJ (DON'T BE LATE!). Due to really bad traffic getting into Manhattan, we decided last minute to take the ferry across - good decision! YAY!

We made it to the show in record time and missed only the first 3 minutes, which was just fine, given the distances we all had to go.  The Best Man stars two-time Tony winner James Earl Jones, Tony winner John Larroquette, Eric McCormack and five-time Tony winner Angela Lansbury, as well as Candice Bergen, Tony nominee Kerry Butler, Michael McKean and Tony winner Jefferson Mays.  We were 5 rows from all of them and they were right there! It was so great to see all of them - right there! 

We left the theater and took the subway to TriBeCa for dinner at Pepolino's, a Florentine Italian restaurant. Matthew and I had seen a show on NYC restaurants a while back and had wanted to go there for dinner sometime.  Pascal is a foodie, as are we, so we were excited to share the experience with him.  Pascal is also a professionally published photographer and has worked with friends on cookbooks, so he knows good food:
Our dinner started with warm and spicy tomato flan for the thick-crusted, Italian bread. We ordered a bottle of Vermentino (white) wine, which has a flowery bouquet and citrus overtones with a bright finish.
Appetizers:
Fried artichokes and zucchinis
Fennel salad with orange sections, olives, and Parmesan
Deep fried soft shell crab with arugula/tomato salad
Goat cheese and pear home made raviolis
Spinach & ricotta gnocchi
King fish wrapped in pancetta (mine)
Braised Mediterranean sea bass
Dessert:
Coffee, panna cotta AND the BEST.RICOTTA.CHEESECAKE.EVER!!!
The waitress also treated us to a glass of Grappa at the very end.

We left there to take Pascal to the Stonewall Inn; he'd been by the place a few times, but never inside. It was completely dead inside, so we took off to Ty's - of course.  It was PACKED! We had a fun time and a couple of drinks.  At about 12:30AM, I told Matt we needed to catch a cab before the last ferry, which I had thought was at about 1AM; however, the last ferry was leaving - at 12:30AM - right as we checked the departure times.  Alas, we hopped in a cab, took Pascal back to his hotel, and left for NJ.

$75 and 45 minutes later, we were in our car to go home, only to stay up till 4AM because we were so wired from the awesome day! Here are some pictures from the day:


wwcitizen: (New Yorker)
Wow, what a fun, packed weekend!  Matt always tells me not to over-book us for stuff, "Less is more, sweetheart," he says.  For the most part, he's right and if I overbook, sometimes even I have to nix some commitment - it depends on how it plays out.

This last weekend, though, was great. We hit all the marks, even stealing some time to relax and re-group before diving back into the throes of meeting up with friends and being here & there for this & that. This was our schedule:

Friday evening/night:
  • Dinner for Matt's niece's 13th birthday (yes, about 10 tweenies and two other kids screaming at the top of their lungs for about 2 hours).
  • Comedy show - FUNNY.FURRY.FIERCE sponsored through Urban Bear at the Duplex in Manhattan.
  • Bar night - later at Ty's (of course)
Saturday:
  • Heat Wave: The Jack Cole Project at the Queens Theater for comped tickets (a WAY off Broadway show). The show highlights choreography and music from the 30s and 40s. It was an OK show, but we didn't like it enough to stay past intermission.
  • 30-minute Park Stroll: Walked around the Flushing Meadows - Corona Park and took some pictures (below). I'd always wanted to go and it was really interesting - we have to return sometime.
  • Cinco de Mayo Party - drove home to relax for about an hour before heading to Jersey City for a very nice party with a bunch of friends - some of whom we hadn't seen in a very long time. The food was awesome.
  • Bar night - later at Ty's (of course), and at Rockbar - these were locations for the after parties from an Urban Bear harbor cruise.
Sunday:
  • Urban Bear's Street Fair: Had to meet up with our buddy, Travis Smith, for his book signing. He and a friend wrote Guide to the Modern Bear, and we got a signed copy (of course). I was featured as one of their group's "beefcakes" last year.  We also ran into a few other folks we hadn't expected to meet, such as Shane Ruff (t-shirt designer), Tribal Son Peter (where I FINALLY bought one of his awesome pieces of jewelry), and Brutus de Groot, who has a new t-shirt line (??) and moved to Phoenix from L.A. (??).
  • Cool-off dinner together: We went to one of our local new favorite restaurants across the street, Beyoglu - a Turkish restaurant. We literally had not eaten all day. My mood was waning REALLY fast and we both dragged our feet all the way to the place. We had food in front of us within minutes (we knew exactly what we wanted - pictures below).  We ate voraciously, took our time walking home, and basically crashed for about 3 hours before watching:
  • Real Housewives of NJ and hitting the sack.
I could sleep for an entire day!
Samantha turned 13 M&S at the  Unisphere
Peter customizes my necklace

 Jim is priceless
wwcitizen: (Photo Avatar)
So, yesterday, we went into the city to meet up with [livejournal.com profile] martini_tim, [livejournal.com profile] bigsabu, [livejournal.com profile] octothorpe, and [livejournal.com profile] mat_t for dinner. Tim & Robert are heading through NYC on their way to Boston and then Ptown for Bear Week, where we'll also be for the week. Dinner was at Tony's di Napoli. We got there a little early for drinks at the bar. After we sat down (in the less noisy basement), we ordered fried calimari and heirloom tomato salad for apps. Then we had veal saltimbucca & spinach and chicken Scarpiello with sausage, potatoes, peppers, and onions. It was all really good! For dessert, we got the chocolate decadence (for Tim, I made sure they exchanged the vanilla ice cream with chocolate - YUMMIER!), cannolis, and tiramisu. So tasty, but we were REALLY stuffed!

Today, we went to a BBQ at a friend's place and had a great time. We got up late, though. Matt had made these AWESOME brownie cookies with dark chocolate brownie, peanut butter mixed with cream cheese, topped with a firm chocolate ganache. Here are a couple of pictures (he got the recipe from Anne Thornton of "Dessert First" on the Food Network - she's fierce and fabulous):


He also made chicken lollipops from frozen raw chicken wings, a construct from Jacques Pépin de-boning his chicken. With the wings, he made his signature dipping sauce with apricot jam, salt/pepper, and the juices from the cooked chicken. They were AWESOME!


We raced back home from the BBQ after a couple of rounds of Bocce Ball. We had decided earlier this month that we wouldn't go into the city or down to Weehawken for the fireworks this year. Instead, we went up onto the roof of our building (something we're not really allowed to do) and watched them from there. Here are a couple of highlights.

Looking across into Jersey:


Looking down the river to the Macy's fireworks:


Enjoyed the day thoroughly!
wwcitizen: (Car in the Country)
We're leaving tomorrow after I'm done working for Sharon Springs, NY! We're heading up there for the Spring Festival and staying in The American Hotel. All sound familiar? Well, it might because of the Fabulous Beekman Boys of Beekman 1802 on Planet Green.

Derek Hartley and Romaine Patterson (of the DNR Show on Sirius OutQ Radio) will be working in the Beekman 1802 Mercantile all weekend with the Beekman Boys. We listen to them practically every day and I've posted conversations I've had with them over the last couple of years. We're hoping to see lots of local celebs there and get to chat with them all. Plus, staying the one night in the Bears' hotel tomorrow night, we might enjoy dinner there Saturday evening before coming home.

We haven't gone anywhere, really, since Christmas, so this is will be a nice little side trip. Haven't packed yet because we weren't sure whether we'd get the hotel reservation or not. They called us back late this afternoon just before I shut off my work computer.

This is the weather for the weekend:


Can't wait! We're also breaking in Matt's new car for the road trip. Should be fun!
wwcitizen: (Uuuuuuh)
Today at 9 AM, the taxi is coming to pick us up to go to the airport. It's 5 AM and I'm wide awake after 2 hours of sleep? Why? Thunder. In March. At 4:50 AM.

Why should THAT be a problem? )

Green House Fire article )
wwcitizen: (Face&Smile)
Friday night - dinner with [livejournal.com profile] peterpandanyc at a New York-based German restaurant (had lots of beer - YEAH!!). Then went out for drinks and socialization at Ty's Bar, a local bear(ish) bar, on Christopher Street. Somehow the night seemed very Bree-ish in a way with tree-lined streets, quiet neighborhoods, shortcuts to places we know, meet-ups with people we haven't seen in a while, beer... good food, friends. Very Lord of the Rings in a way - also a brisk evening with colored leaves falling. Course, that's how it seems now. At the time, it was just another evening out on the town. Typically, too, people wouldn't see NYC that way at all. But I've come to see the CITY as a big town. Not the insurmountable metropolis that it once was to me.


Saturday and night Matthew and I didn't have anything to do, really, so we slept till about 12:00. Had a great little breakfast, then went to Cosco for Michale Kors dress shirts (I bought 4). We also bought three Ralph Lauren sweaters, and some Calvin Klein jeans, which are very exciting. When we got home, we watched TV and TV, and TV. Saw Pan's Labyrinth, which was really good, but sad. Gave me REALLY cool dreams, though, and I woke up feeling adventurous!


Sunday and night we got up late again, which was great because I could tell my body really needed good rest this weekend - especially after the long week I had last week. We went to Lowe's and bought a shower door for Matthew's bathroom (really hot guys at that place, and right next door is Home Depot - a gay bear's heaven). Then we dashed off to find Bed, Bath, and Beyond, but couldn't find one convenient and open (Bergen County has the Blue Law still, so we can't shop around here on Sundays). This morning when we were prepping to wash the sheets and pillow cases, Matthew discovered feathers upon feathers coming through his hypo-allergenic pillow cover - very unusual. We opened it to find thousands of feathers everywhere because one of the two cheap pillows we'd stuffed in there had burst. We were thus on a mission to find a new pillow for him. Didn't happen today. When we got home, we had an early dinner around 5:30 (for us that's early) and sank into the evening. Matthew worked on a website, and I washed clothes, the linens, and kitchen towels, put away clothes, cleaned the kitchen, and watched some TV. We make a great team, Matthew and me.
wwcitizen: (Wanna chat?)
I faced an unexpected bout of nostalgia and heartache this weekend. And of all places, at a yard sale that we helped host. Last week Matt and I worked hard together to go through a portion of my storage unit in efforts to supply some good toward a yard sale in Mahwah, NJ. We picked up some pieces of my furniture, all my VHS tapes left from Trenton, a couple DVDs, audio books that will never be listened to again, and other things. There were two pieces of furniture I wasn't sure about getting rid of, but I took them anyway - a chair from my maternal grandmother's house and a little, tiny bookshelf from my paternal grandparents' house (sticker still on the bottom from my dad). I have had those two pieces of furniture for at least 20 years myself, and the little bookshelf has been in my family for at least 90, if not over 100 years. Both of them might not actually be antiques, but they're a part of my heritage, and that fact and their nostalgia didn't hit me until I was at the yard sale and a gentleman came up to buy the shelves. I told him the story of the shelves:

The shelves had been with me in every college dorm room, and apartment I'd had since I left home, but had been in my childhood bedrooms as well. I can't remember any place those shelves had been other than around me pretty much all my life. They actually represented my love of books, and I typically placed them next to the head of my bed. They were at the head of my bed for the 10 years leading up to my move up to northern NJ with Matthew. I told the guy that I'm sure my grandfather on my dad's side probably had something to do with them being built; after all we are related to the Thomasvilles (of Thomasville Furniture), and my grandfather had a factory once making coat stands.

The gentleman thanked me for the story, said he wanted to refinish them noting that the nails in the shelves were quite old, gave me $2 for them, and walked away to come back later to pick them up. I turned to walk back to my post and immediately lost it. I was overcome with anxiety and nostalgia, sadness and grief, and immediately missed the shelves, even though they weren't gone. Even as I write this tears are welling up in my eyes over those little shelves. They are material things, both the shelves and the chair, but they mean the world to me: they remind me of my family, my heritage, and my childhood, are parts of my personal history.

Matt was so sweet; he came over and said, "Honey, are you OK? What happened?" I could barely recount the events to him through my tears and being upset, but I did. He said, "Well, if they're causing you this much heartache, give the guy back his money when he comes back, and tell him you can't sell them. Then put a big sign on them that says, 'Not for Sale'. You can keep them; in fact, bring them home and let's put them somewhere you will see them every day." That made me cry even harder, but quietly. That was such a special moment, especially since he and his sister three weeks before sold the contents of his mother's house out of a storage unit to save money. They both had to get rid of a house full of stuff that reminded them of home, security, family, good times, and simple times - much like my chair and little shelves.

At that moment, I didn't care how much it cost to keep those two little pieces of furniture, and I still don't. By the time the guy returned, I had spoken to my sister and she couldn't believe that I would try to sell those things given how much they mean to me; she also let me know of a couple of times that she had accidentally given something away that would be truly mediocre in the eyes of any collector or art gallery: a hand print bowl from my dad that she and he had made together when she was a little girl. She has no idea where it got to, but is pretty sure that it went to charity at one point. To this day she feels bad and deeply regretful that it's gone, and wanted to save me that pain and regret.

When the guy returned, I explained the situation and gave him his money back (which being a salesman in these situations, I hated doing, but would have hated worse the outcome of not doing it!). He understood completely and agreed with me saying, "Our families and memories are important! If we don't have them, what have we got?!" I thanked him (behind slowly welling joyful tears) and took my shelves and chair back to the back of our spot to write up two "Not for Sale" signs.

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Stephen Lambeth

May 2017

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