(Today's pictures are 100% stolen)
The truck looked like it had died painfully from a botched facelift. It stood against the gray sky on four deflated tires and didn’t look like it had moved in years. It made its stand proudly, as if it’s ultimate demise won the high school science fair for two kids ambitious to use lasers for destruction. At the same level as the top of the sides of the bed, the cab had been sheered clean off. It stood demurely without a window shield or wipers, as the rain poured down into it’s exposed interior. It looked used to the disrespect.
The metal siding on the barn was in disrepair and looked like it had been loosing the battle against rust and the elements for over a decade. “West End Auction Mart,” read a battered sign, painted in the same color as the rust, as if to disguise the fact that it too couldn’t win against the winter storms. The rain poured down and the loose tarps that hid signs advertising discounts in terms of % off, flapped like they were resigned to their white trash existence. A sign said, “Yes, we’re open.” The lettering, while standard issue for such things, seemed crassly cheery and made want to anthropomorphize it into a small child I was allowed to slap.
We considered turning back, but where do you go when its pouring rain and you’re driving a rented 14-foot truck cluttered with remnants of your late mother’s estate? The chairs, table, mirror, empty suitcases and mattress had no home. We were looking for an orphanage.
The metal doorknob was cold too the touch but man who greeted up inside wasn’t so easy to read. His cowboy hat was the size of a medium sized fish tank and, in my opinion, cleaner than a proper white cowboy hat ought to be. Perhaps he was dressing up and the dinner plate sized belt buckle was also for a special occasion. We looked around his storeroom. Since he was preparing for an antique auction, there was furniture and misc scattered about in various levels of presentableness. There were rows of chairs that were probably bought at some % off from a dilapidated movie theater on one side of his storeroom. The chairs were much cleaner and brighter than the rest of the warehouse and I imagined a crowd of other men, in equally large hats, chatting like housewives about how to get the furniture out to their trucks despite the rain. I imagined them wandering among the antiques, complimenting each other on their hats.
We deemed it an appropriate orphanage and unloaded the miscellany and furniture. Luckily, these are not symbols of my youth and sheltered family existence. These are not the monuments I grew up with. Those tattered couches, old wood stove and the orange shag rug are long gone and not of worth to anyone else. I’m glad they have been lost in time and I don’t have to say goodbye to them. The items we unload from the truck are implements of bourgeois ambition, pretty things that aren’t quiet antique but respectable. They don’t remind me of the scraped knees and dirty hands of my childhood and are therefore easier to pass on. They are hard to say goodbye to because I know my mother touched them, but they don’t represent the end of an era or the death of a loved one. They are just things. We stack these objects on the clean cement floor of the warehouse as the wife of the man with the clean oversized cowboy hat catalogs them and writes us a receipt. We shake hands with them both and drive off.
I look toward my brother to try and gage his reaction to the encounter. He drives through the oversized puddles and past the flapping tarps. He stops and looks both ways before pulling out onto the empty street. The moving truck slowly accelerates and he says, “They may have been sleazy, but I know they were human. They are just a husband and wife trying to make a living. They were human and I feel good about that.”
I nod. I look at my brother and feel that we could conquer anything together. We share a little bit of some perception that the rest of the world will never get. I’m glad it’s just the two of us together trying to figure out how to deal with all this stuff, these inanimate things, that used to fill our beloved mother’s life.
We drive the UHaul across town, get some coffee and talk about how limited we are to see only certain wavelengths of light. If our eyes were different we could process sound as sight, or visa versa. It makes me reconsider the phrase, “being on the same wavelength” as I look over my coffee at my brother.