October 16, 2005
Everything Must Go 
I stopped with my daughters at the local Goodwill store today (they were looking for some clothing to use for cosplay . . . between their interest in jpop and the San Diego ComicCon, it was only a matter of time). While they searched the racks for bargains, I perused the shelves in the back of the store.

What impressed me was a mood that came over me, both wistful and bittersweet, and on occasion, sombering. In these stores you see the ebbs and swirls, the waves, if you will, of the crap our lives leave behind. Literally.

I know, a lot of stuff is garage-sale leftover, spring cleaning rejects, and the like. But like at the "White Elephant" (a charity thrift store in the retirement community of Green Valley, AZ), in many cases, someone has died and left a lifetime of collected 'stuff' to find it's way back into the material world. Who bought that "World's Best Grampa" coffee mug? Where is grampa? Dead? In the throes of dementia? Or maybe he just had all the coffee cups he needed, and what the hell, the kid is in grad school now?

Looking through the shelves, I saw a Vivitar 110 camera (long, thin, narrow . . . negatives the size of your fingernail, and the graininess showed with every photo that was developed). Just holding it in my hands and I was back at summer camp in the Adirondacks . . . it's 1982, and Human League is playing on the radio. Hanging with good friends who promised they would stay in touch forever, and then scattered to the four winds just a few years later. Toys on the shelves, storybooks and records that meant so much to me as a child, and here is the same book, the same boardgame. All those childhood emotions wrapped up in an object produced by the millions. And now it's on a shelf at Goodwill, wornout, forgotten . . . and overpriced at $3.99.

I know. Enough of this maudlin crap. But I can't help but think of what I saw just before my daughters approached with their newfound treasures and asked to head to the checkout. A framed handmade embroidered picture, yellowed with age and a bit weatherworn, it had just a few simple words, and was signed 'Sarah.'

"Remember me when this you see."

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October 16, 2005
Everything Must Go by James



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