Oct. 8th, 2007

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.
wwcitizen: (Default)
A friend of mine sent me this. Thought it was interesting.

The English Language:

Have you ever wondered why foreigners have trouble with the English Language? Let's face it. English is a crazy language. There is no egg in the eggplant, no ham in the hamburger, and neither pine nor apple in the pineapple. English muffins were not invented in England. French fries were not invented in France. We sometimes take English for granted, but if we examine its paradoxes we find that Quicksand takes you down slowly, Boxing rings are square. And a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig. If writers write, how come fingers don't fing. If the plural of tooth is teeth. Shouldn't the plural of booth be beeth, If the teacher taught, Why didn't the preacher praught. If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what the does a humanitarian eat? Why do people recite at a play, yet play at a recital; Park on driveways and Drive on parkways? You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language where a house can burn up as it burns down; And in which you fill in a form by filling it out. And a bell is only heard once it goes! English was invented by people, not computers, and it reflects the creativity of the human race (Which of course isn't a race at all) That is why when the stars are out they are visible, but when the lights are out they are invisible, and why it is that when I wind up my watch it starts, but when I wind up this observation, it ends.
wwcitizen: (Lucky Changs Lanterns)
The express bus this morning was seriously EXPRESS! There were very few people coming into the city today since it was Columbus Day. My office, however, didn't have the day off. Our DC office did, but that's also because the government has off.

As a result, the bus was flying down River Road and passed by all the empty bus stops. One in a while, though, my bus driver stopped to chat with other bus drivers. No, not on the side of the road, or when he was already stopped, nor in a convenient spot. Nope, MY bus driver selected busy intersections to halt traffic to exchange greetings or comments with other drivers, or with an on-coming bus, he stopped traffic in both directions to chat up a female driver, who looked a little perturbed that he stopped her. We all were perturbed that he stopped our bus for that!

After I got off the bus, into Port Authority, and made my way downtown on the subway, there wasn't much place to sit, which is fine, usually, but today, given our weekend, it was a bit taxing; I was sleepy. I was on my way out of the station downtown about 20 minutes later meeting a bunch of cops walking through the station in twos and threes. Up one short staircase, I noticed a police hat scoot across the floor toward the railing chased after by a very cute, beefy cop smiling. He reached down to pick up his hat as another cop behind him hit him either in the side, the buttocks, or the shoulder, I couldn't see. They started pushing on each other and quietly cojoled each other as I glanced at them, chuckled, and steered my path out of the station up the exit stairs.

It was nice to take the usual route to work but make it to the office in 45 minutes rather than 65-70 minutes as usual.

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Stephen Lambeth

May 2017

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