A Letter to the Pedestrians of New York City

The umbrella you will lose anyway

Dear Citizens,
We can all agree that it was raining this evening, and lightning was seen from some parts of the city. At times the downpour was strong. Those of us who paid careful attention to the forecast may have been more prepared for the rain than those of us who did not.
Nevertheless, I would like you to consider giving up your umbrellas.
First, in the interest of public safety, consider the eyes that will go un-poked-out when you no longer stab passersby in the face. Give a thought to the unsprained ankles dangling there on the legs of the people who will no more need to dive out of your, unseeing way. Think on the empty lost-and-found shelf of your favorite restaurant, the library, and the subway, no longer required to store your forgotten umbrellas.
Next, know that your second hand is henceforward free! Now you can carry your lunch, your handbag, your gym bag, your groceries, your WNYC bag full of library books, your briefcase, your tool box, and your huge and heavy shopping bag full of new sheets from Bed, Bath & Beyond.
You will not dissolve in the rain, New York. Lift your eyes from the pavement and let the raindrops land on your eyelashes. Allow the rain to run down your cheeks. Feel the mile traveled by earth’s evaporated water from the surface of the earth up into our atmosphere and back. Welcome those raindrops back to earth.
You will not dissolve.
Yours truly,
New New Yorker
(Recent Transplant from Seattle)

Garage Sale

The last time I moved, it was 1994. We moved into the house we are now leaving, and did it with the help of a couple of friends.  This time, relocation specialists will be in charge, but we still have plenty to do.

Staying in one place for 17 years meant that we never had to be judicious in what we kept and what we got rid of.  We have a large basement that easily swallowed the dioramas, paper mâché birds, model boats, fishing poles, and old skis.  Our kitchen cupboards are home to our every-day dishes, two different sets of fancy china, some random old dishes, and a complete set of 12 place settings of orange stoneware.  When my mother died I ended up with those orange dishes and her collection of plastic Halloween pumpkin buckets, which I hung from the basement ceiling and pretty much ignored. 
Because we are running out of time, this was the only weekend we could hold a garage sale. I contacted some neighbors, and corralled some of them into holding yard sales on the same day, so I could advertise the event as “multi-family.” The forecast predicted the chance of rain for the day to be 80%.  In retrospect, I think it rained for about 80% of the day.
Given that the advertising had already run, and that we had no other day to choose from, we held our sale under a large tent in the front yard and up on our front porch.   My husband persistently grumbled, “This wasn’t my idea,” and had it not been for the arrival of a friend with lattes, it might have gotten even uglier.  
We priced everything as cheaply as we could: 25¢ for a whole basket of toys, free books, a free chair, etc.  While some things went fast and early, we didn’t sell anything after noon. The fishing poles went for a song.  A guy with no car walked off with the free chair on his head.  Our oldest son did manage to sell the piano, which made him extremely happy but made me kind of sad and tired.  All of the things I had really hoped to be able to unload (the treadmill, which is top of the line and huge; the orange dishes; two large plastic light-up snowmen), I would have parted with at any price, and each of these things is still here. Given the weather, there was no way to sell bed frames or sofas at all.
In the parallel universe where I have patience for activities like participating in Craig’s List or eBay, I might have found homes for a number of the items at a fair price.  In that parallel universe, I have a lot more time to take pictures of plastic Halloween decorations, my IBM Selectric typewriter sits on the desk of a ransom-note writer still fond of mid-1980s office equipment, and even the orange dishes go to the highest bidder.
In this universe, we drove the household stuff to Goodwill, and the kid-stuff will go to Treehouse.