I’m standing in my living room. It’s a sunny Sunday afternoon in January, and I am bedecked in a Denver Broncos jersey. The AFC championship game is on. It is the third quarter, and the Broncos are ahead, but it is a defensive war-of-attrition type game, and I can’t relax. So I’m standing.
I don’t normally get to watch football games, since the Sunday afternoon schedule of a pastor with a seven year-old and overworked spouse is unpredictable and generally unfavorable to three-plus hours spent watching television. I’m in between jobs for two weeks, though, so this is that rare Sunday when hours stretch out in front of me like empty pages of a sketch book. Still, I’m standing, because standing makes me appear more at the ready to multitask, say fold laundry or fix my daughter’s toys.
There’s another reason I’m standing. A woman is supposed to come pick up a table and file cabinet I listed on the local freecycle site, and 40 minutes ago she called to say she was about 20 minutes away, so I’m pacing in front of the window watching for her, but with no idea what she–or her car–looks like. The table is as big as you’d expect a table to be. She’d better be in a truck.
I spy through the window a white PT Cruiser crawling down the street, and I’m sure this is her. I’m relieved she’s not lost, but I’m irritated she doesn’t have a truck. There’s no way a table fits in that little car, not to mention the two-drawer filing cabinet she also wants. These things have to go, though. They are high on the list of tasks I need to knock out this week to justify moving to another city for four months to begin a new job without my family. We make eye contact through my front window to confirm that we are, indeed, both looking for one another.
I know from the “I Love Cats” sticker on the back of the car and the array of empty boxes spilling from the windows that I’m dealing with a person who not only loves cats (duh), but who also trolls freecycling websites and rolls a car full of empty boxes. I simply want to get this transaction completed and return to the game.
She’s talkative, though, which is surprising for a box-carting cat lady. She’s actually brought the boxes for me, she says, as an exchange for the table and file cabinet. I remember now that I spoke of moving on the phone and make a mental note to stop sharing details of my life with strangers (blogging excepted). I get the boxes out of the cruiser and into my garage and then set to work on getting the table situated. The rear of the car is bigger than I though. It will definitely fit.
We get the table in (she is helping me lift it and quite strong), and then attempt the filing cabinet in the front passenger seat. No dice. The door won’t close. We try three or four different configurations, and all the while she’s telling me that her neighbors will be upset with her when she arrives home with these new items. Curious, I ask, “Why?”
“They’ve sort of adopted me since my husband died and they keep telling me I need to be getting rid of things, not acquiring them.”
I consider for a moment that I am enabling a grieving hoarder.
The job is done, though. She is precariously wedged in the driver’s seat between the filing cabinet and her door, smiling happily as she backs out of my driveway. As she speeds off down my street I spend a thought on the needs people carry around like broken down boxes and how it is so easy to trade one for another.