Reflection is in order for this old gray mare. As we have reached our golden years, we are re-engineering our lives and it starting to feel like reverting to our childhood. In which I mean, I entered with nothing and with will leave with nothing, as will all.  And to that end, my husband, the Rayman, and I are in the business of shedding our things. Oh god, our dining room table. Gone. Forty seven pairs of shoes, gone. Even our sleep number bed. Yes, it is that bad. On the flip side of the record, however, is that each article donated, given to the kids, or thrown out, somehow feels liberating. After all, do we own the stuff or does the stuff own us? And through all of this disgorging, I discovered that I was a serial shopper. Or was I?

Great Aunt Ruby collected china from Bavaria. Great Aunt Rachel who married a movie mogel, collected art that interestingly enough matched her harpsichord. My mother who never met an alcoholic she didn’t like, played the accordion which I felt duty-bound to keep on a small brown end table in the den where it hosted dust over the years which I pretended not to see. It seems I became the family member that felt an obligation to preserve and protect the artifacts of life of the dearly departed. And if you suppose that I will not rid myself of these things, you are right on the money. They are some of them, vestiges of love and remembrances. They remain while lesser items have been dispensed with for no good reason other than we are moving from an 1800 square foot house to an 800 square foot apartment which I may name Bare Bones Estate. 

When I was a kid, my Great Aunt Rachel moved to a sleepy coastal town, Cayucos, in California. No more Beverly Hills swank for her after her hus band ran a hose into the car of their garage and perished on purpose. My cousins from Los Angeles came up in the summer and we all congregated at the beach house. While the adults belted down bourbon and water, us kids were busy having the time of our lives. Chris caught snakes in the creek which flowed by the house, ocean bound. Then he let them loose in the house which he only did once on account of the uproar that ensured. Goodie two-shoes, Tony, worked in the yard because his high school job in Santa Monica was tending posies at a garden shop. Katy was funny and shared her humor as we walked the beach and rode the waves before wetsuits were a thing and then we would walk back to the house shivering and blue as avatars. Cousin Jimmy, the eldest who was destined to marry a Communist later, sat around being cool.


From the left, Katy, me, Chris, Tony

In Cayucos, the local custom was to name your house. For all I know, the postman delivered my great aunt’s mail to Old Creeker’s rather than 2508  24th St. The name Old Creeker’s was so perfect and appealing that it has stayed with me all these years later. Even though they were only in their 50s, they took on the mantle of age with hilarious results. More sophisticated names the neighbors bestowed on their abodes were names like By the Sea Shanty, Crow’s Nest, that sort of thing. Old Creekers with it’s double entendre was a more fitting and funnier name to this kid. So, yes, Bare Bone Estate, it may be.

AgIng means cutting back at some point so as to not burden descendants. It invokes human kindness and care for loved ones. It is also a rude awaking when you discover that your dining room table that was purchased in 1980 isn’t wanted by anyone which then makes you wonder why. Which morphs into, “What the hell is wrong with everyone?”; which morphs into self-reflection as you wonder what the hell is wrong with me? I’ve owned it for that long and the dinner parties enjoyed around that table are priceless memories to chew on as we settle in to our apartment. So it was all worth it.

Our children have displayed grace and kindness as they have taken many of our chairs, lamps, tables, and a bed. It makes our hearts sing to know that for at least some time, they will enjoy our gifts and will think of us as they sit down, turn off the light, and make margaritas in the red blender. 


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