- Written by Bill Levine Bill Levine
On a recent Sunday morning, cars were parked all over our short residential street. All 15 houses, built circa 1926, had parking spaces blocked, save for the driveways. This irritant was because of an estate-sale blowout at the house on our street corner.
I decided to walk down and confirm it was more than garden gnomes that could bring out such a crowd on a dreary morning.
The sign at the property’s entrance had more rules than a motel-pool warning notice. I only remember its commandment that CARS SHOULD NOT BLOCK DRIVEWAYS. Right away the garage caught my attention, as it was completely stuffed with piled-high furniture — not exactly an Ethan Allen gallery.
The garage was just the appetizer for hungry bargain hunters. The main course was in the living room. I first noticed a tourist gift shop’s worth of figurines displayed on several tables. I was drawn to a Boston terrier piece, as we collect them, being Boston owners. Alas, I didn’t think we needed another one and left it alone.
I didn’t wander into the kitchen, but I’m sure all culinary items were for sale except for the kitchen sink.
After leaving this sale and then suffering my wife’s chagrin for not adding to our Smithsonian of a Boston terrier collection, I did have to take stock of how our neighbor’s enormous clutter was transformed into a giant, professional estate sale.
I pondered how we will impossibly triage our cluttered stuff, accumulated over 35 years, such as the now-quaint family photo albums, our kids’ gold-star worksheets from elementary school, dubious unopened gifts, languished door prizes, two huge storage bins of old-but-once-important folders, gardening and kitchen implements our kids will politely refuse, furniture that won’t fit our downsizing, and 30 years of pet smells.
The corner house on our street was a multi-generation home spanning over 40 years; its vacancy leaves us as still only the fourth-oldest household on the street. Thus, my wife and I have recently discussed whether we want to have the grand/dubious distinction of being possibly the last house left from when we moved here in the 1980s.
Working against us becoming the neighborhood old-timers are several facts: our home is too big for two; taxes are too high; and we are disinclined to become crotchety “get off my lawn unless you have a leaf blower” oldsters.
The pros of staying in our house until we are carried out are: a smaller home in our area would be expensive; we could charm newcomers with tales of when the town was dry and basements were wet; and we could procrastinate cleaning out our home forever.
Perhaps the last, but certainly not least, factor in deciding whether to sell earlier rather than later is our integration into the neighborhood today as opposed to our heyday as parents of school-age kids. Those were the days when everyone knew your name and your kids’ teachers’ names.
Today, though, as neighborhood elders, we know fewer names and look on wistfully as the coffee-clutching parental group bids goodbye to the school bus. We feel so off-the-current of activity here that our lights are dark on Halloween, with not even a perfunctory outdoor pumpkin.
That said, perhaps by working toward becoming a lovable old couple, we could flourish in our neighborhood and stay until we have The Last House Left. We could resume going to the annual block party that is a September ritual. We were regular attendees until our kids belatedly outgrew the piñata smashing.
Not sure how our pendulum will swing in the next few years, but it’s more likely, health willing, that we will be hosting neighbors on our porch — who want know what the neighborhood was like when Reagan was president — than suffering in the midst of “packrat withdrawal,” cursing Marie Kondo as we start the downsizing ordeal.
Bill Levine is a retired IT professional and active freelance writer. Bill aspires to be a humorist because it is easier to be pithy than funny. He may be reached at email@example.com.