Years ago I stopped at a local estate sale. It was the house of a family going through a divorce and basically everything in the house was for sale. I was pretty weirded out, walking through this house that contained all their personal items. Looking through clothes in closets and walking in the kids bedrooms. A few professionals were handling the sale. A table was set up by the front door. There were lots of people. There was a line to check out.
I remember thinking that the kitchen must have been custom. Somebody must work for Sub-Zero because nobody has a Sub-Z in their garage as a beer fridge! I saw a black jacket hanging in the closest with an embroidered Sub-Z above the right chest. Empty boxes and piles of clothing....holiday decorations scattered on a table. The prices were too high. I picked up a resin Easter bunny inside of an egg. The bunny had whiskers made out of taut fishing line. I need more Easter decorations.
The whole scene made me sad and kind of sick to my stomach. How quickly the life you have created can turn and you find yourself on the brink of divorce with kids ready to go off to college and a big house with a big mortgage and a big tax bill. You can't afford any of this on your own. On your own. How would that feel?
I was ready to leave but felt like there had to be something to buy. I wasn't ready to give up yet. All this stuff in this house and I can't find one thing to buy? I can find something to buy in the worst of thrift stores. I headed to the basement which was dark and contained so much stuff my eyes didn't know where to land. I saw a big print leaning against a metal shelving unit. Tools and paint cans and random things that come with years of marriage and kids and upgrading your life.
The print was a map of Puget Sound and the San Juan Islands. It was nicely framed and the background was yellow with some blue to identify the waterways. Sepia colored boats scattered the edges and gave a description of their history. I love a good map. I love boats, particularly sailboats. There was not a price tag on it. I had to haul it upstairs and wait for the professionals to figure out how much to charge me. I thought of how much money I wanted to spend on this. The number would be too much. Everything is overpriced. "How about $10?" Great.
One of the professionals asked me if I needed help carrying it out to my car. I think I had a kid with me. I said no. I still felt icky. But also kind of excited about this cool map for such a great price.
The map was hung in my son's room. We recently painted and redecorated the kids rooms so the map got relocated to the office. At some point after purchasing my ticket to Write Doe Bay I realized I had this map. I put my finger on the glass and traced it from Seattle to Bellingham to Anacortes to Orcas Island. I had this treasure in my home, a map guiding me to my next big adventure, and I didn't recognize it. It was so loud and I didn't hear it. I started to cry.
Last night I attended a small gathering at my friends house. Multi-level marketing at its finest. I went to support her and buy an overpriced lipstick or bottle of lotion. The last woman to arrive was tall and blond and kinda kooky in a cool way. She talked a lot and was outgoing. She was the neighbor who used to live across the street. They all hugged and talked about how much they missed her. The neighborhood just wasn't the same without her.
"Did you have an estate sale a few years ago?" I asked. "Yep, did you buy anything?" she jokingly asked me.
Yes I did. I bought a passport. A talisman that will forever hang in my home. I will take my finger and retrace the path that I took to find myself. It was a long journey. But as my friend Chrissy said, Sometimes you have to travel far to find a lost you.