Tim and I went to an estate sale. It was held in a beautiful home, leaded glass windows, beautiful woodwork, a fireplace. The woman had died, and her belongings were being sold. I'd never been to an estate sale before. Basically, you just walk through this woman's home and buy her stuff. Very surreal.
I learned a lot about the deceased. Mary was Catholic. There were a bunch of catechism books, dated 1917 (surely not hers!), every blank filled with a child's careful script. Crucifixes and roasaries and books about the saints, and Bibles. But she also loved martinis. And entertaining. She had lots of books on how to be the hostess with the mostest. A linen closet filled with linens, formal ones, casual ones. Dishes for every conceivable food you can imagine. Deviled egg plates, bread baskets, fondue ware, picnic things, crock pots, pickle plates, relish dishes. She was trapped in the 1950s. Crocheted couch pillows and boxy furniture with wooden legs. An old hi-fi with piles of albums. Tony Bennett, Andy Williams, Frank Sinatra. She played golf. She was a world traveler. I think that she was a professional woman. There was a small office with a Remington typewriter there. A bookshelf contained old books on short hand, and office management, and presenting a professional appearance. She cared a lot about her appearance. Her makeup was in the medicine cabinet. Perfumes on the bathroom counter. Hair dryers, the old fashioned ones with the bonnets that you put on over your head. Curlers with white hair still in them. Clothing hanging in the closets and in her dresser drawers, shoes in their racks, costume jewelry. Family pictures on the walls, in frames on the tables, photograph albums, souveniers from her travels. She must have been married to a doctor because there was another room full of old medical books. I imagine that he died some time ago, because there was no men's clothing in the closets. Little old lady cloth coats, and rubbers over little old lady shoes hung alone in the downstairs hall closet. Every last thing in that house had a price tag.
It reminded me of a charactor from the book that I'm reading 'The Enchantress of Florence'. She is called 'the memory palace'. Although she exists in the present, her mind is trapped in her past, her body pantomining her memories, her eyes vacant and staring at something which no longer exists. Not much different from Mary. I picture Mary's world shrinking, person by person, with the passing of years, until in the end, there was only Mary left, and then she, too, was gone. All that was left were her things, no person to claim them, no one left that they meant anything to. A bunch of strangers walked through Mary's house, looking at the most private details of Mary's life, picking through Mary's things.
It was a very hot day, but I shivered anyway.
I was very happy to leave Mary's beautiful home.