When you’re working as fast as you can at something you haven’t done before you have little time for reflection. You skeedaddle in the moment and ponder later. Then again, sometimes you scamper and consider and hope your feet don’t get tangled in a low-hanging thought, like driving like Jehu across four states and realizing you have to get up after 5 for an 8 AM garage sale.
Well, that sucks, huh?
After dinner, there was still organizing to do. Pete and I cleaned up and plunked down at the kitchen table, where we played The Price Is Right with Darla and Daria.
Daria: What do you think of this?
Pete: What is it?
Daria: A matching set of cheesy glass candleholders that weigh a ton.
Pete: Two for $5!
The auctioneer peeled off pre-printed price tags and stuck them on things, over and over, until we were too bleary to continue.
Darla: This thing?
Darla: Why a dollar?
Tata: Maybe I don’t have to look at it again?
Darla: Good point.
On Friday night, the oddness of putting prices on Dad’s things did not really penetrate my travel exhaustion and white wine fog, which did not facilitate sleep. In my own bed, I’m not a good sleeper. For instance, this morning, I wandered into the kitchen, fed the kittens breakfast, thought about breakfast and fired up the laptop before noticing it was 2 AM. I went back to bed.
Pete: Whatcha doin’?
Tata: Evidently, I felt an overpowering subconscious need to spoon a quarter can of cat food into a bowl twice.
Next thing I knew the alarm blared and it was just after six, so I’m not just a bad sleeper, I make sleep mistakes. Likewise, the night before the garage sale, I tossed and turned. Then, because I’m thorough, I checked my work by tossing and turning again. Finally, around 5, I heard one of Darla’s cats register a complaint from outside, so I went downstairs to let him in. When I came back up the stairs, Daria popped out of her bedroom door, fully wound.
Daria: You’re up! Can I get up now? I can get up now that someone else is up!
Tata: It’s still dark out.
Daria: I’m up! Is it time to get up yet?
Tata: Sure. Why don’t you make us some coffee? Most of us will really need that.
Darla appeared at the other end of the hall like the sitcom wacky neighbor.
Darla: Where’s everyone else? We have to be at Cleo’s in half an hour.
Tata: It’s still dark out.
Daria: Dara’s teenage butt’s still in bed.
Tata: I have to shower before other humans smell me.
Darla: Cleo reminded me that even though I advertised for an 8 AM start, I should expect crazy fuckers before 6.
Tata: Intriguing! I have to tell Pete we expect early bird crazy fuckers.
Minutes later, I discovered that Darla had vigorously cleaned the common bathroom, which would have been newsworthy anytime but was made even more so because I had to wash my entire person with Pantene-knockoff shampoo. I couldn’t wait to tell Daria that Darla had emptied the once-packed bathroom of dozens of personal cleaning products and bathing came with full-body frizz control. Darla went on ahead to Cleo’s house. Pete, Daria, Dara and I followed half an hour later as the sun rose and as we pulled up, crazy fuckers were already standing on Cleo’s lawn.
It was at this instant I realized that ads in the Staunton News Leader, signs on poles and chatter on WSVA, where Dad was on the radio for 20 years, had brought all these people here for a piece of Dad. I had no illusion that he belonged to me or to us and that by keeping these objects I could keep him. Dara’s been a local celebrity since before she was born because Dad was always a public person. He’s gone. Still, I hesitated for just a moment. Then, I grabbed a box and lugged it past those people to a table in the yard.