This week, the “journey of no new things” brought me to back porch in the company of near-strangers, eating potato salad and watching a three year old enjoy the thrill of egg hunting.
The story involves a run, a loaf pan, and a phone conversation with a someone I’ve never met in Colorado, so let me back up a bit:
My roommate, Hannah, will be “shipping up to Boston” come August. As a result, I’m slowly scouting out yard & estate sales to prepare to replace some of the household items she’ll be taking with her when she goes. So, on Saturday, when James and I set out on a morning run and passed a yard sale, we made a pit stop to see what we could find.
Sure enough, there were a few items that caught my attention, namely a mandolin slicer, a loaf pan, and a cutting board. We set the items aside, promising to return after we’d finished running and could both pay for the items and carry them home. Upon our return, we got to talking with the couple selling their wares and left with a bargain: $5 for the lot with an ice cream-maker ball tossed in – and an invitation to Easter lunch the following day.
I suppose, as I’ve told it, it’s nothing miraculous: a friendly family selling some unneeded items extending an invitation to lunch to a few strangers. But ask yourself (as I asked myself), who does that? Who offers to welcome people you know next to nothing about to an annual family gathering?
I debated going. Did they mean it? Is it weird for me to show up? If I do go, what should I bring? They seemed sincere and I had no other plans having stayed in Raleigh for the holiday, so decided to go for it.
I showed up a bit late, and when no one answered the door I returned to my car cucumber salad in hand, a bit defeated. But something told me to wait. After a few minutes a couple cars pulled up and the passengers entered the home, so I followed suit. After fumbling through a few explanations to various relatives of how I ended up there, I was greeted by the couple who recognized me from the day before. “Kate! The runner! We’re so glad you could make it!”. A hug. “We were just talking about you with our son in Colorado, he’s on the phone, say hi!” So I took the phone and said a quick hello and happy Easter. Honestly a bit of a whirlwind, if you ask me.
In moments, I slipped right into the routine. No one seemed fazed by my presence, mostly glad to have another guest. We ate, we talked, we kept an eye on the little ones. And when it was time to go, I was told I was always welcome.
And that’s how I ended up on this back porch for Easter lunch.
To me, this showcased the beauty of local & the magic of secondhand. I’m not saying that a conversation with your cashier at Target couldn’t culminate in an invitation to Easter lunch, but surely it would seem a bit more contrived.
It also gave me pause as it produced an association with a new label for myself: neighbor.
Of course, growing up I’ve had neighbors & have been a neighbor. Similarly, living in a dorm one has hall neighbors or suite neighbors. But for the first time in my young adult life, I introduced myself as a neighborhood neighbor.
The explanation of “Well, I came by a yard sale yesterday and left with a few purchases and an invitation to lunch” was unique, and as the afternoon wore on I shortened the story to “Well, I’m a neighbor”. Early on, this was spoken with an inflection on “neighbor” as if it were a question, and later, without: a transition into a statement of newly acknowledged identity.
I know I’ve been away from writing for a bit; so it goes as a grad student
So, as a quick update from the last month or so:
- I’ve managed to stick to my plan for the year so far. To date the only new purchases have been batteries for that dumb thermometer that didn’t work, and some greeting cards (though printed and purchased locally).
- I’ve recently undertaken a project to fix up a set of 6 cane chairs for our kitchen, and plan to detail that as it unfolds. Stay tuned. Saws and staple guns are involved, so this will be interesting.
- Our washing machine broke, but turns out the fix involved nothing more than a rubber band! Should probably find the replacement part to have on hand in case the band-aid (hah) goes south. Shout out to some helpful people who’ve posted to Youtube for saving us an (expensive) service call.
That’s all for now.
Happy Spring & Happy Easter, everyone.