I wish I had been more hospitable.

Mid-July 2011—having a yard sale. Our asses are starting to hurt from sitting on the concrete stoop most of the morning and being forced into large-scale interaction with a wide array of folks Joe and I are simply not built for. We are always kind and open, but those who frequent yard sales are often times exhausting, chatty, eccentric, or, at times, rude. It can be a lot for a couple of introverts (apologies for using that word, I find it quite overused; regardless, it is apt). There are times, however, when you meet someone and it feels like you are talking to an old friend. That old friend’s name was Faith.

She was an older woman, perhaps in her late 50s. It’s hard to tell sometimes given not knowing someone’s history or life experience, so she could’ve been any age. My point being, with the utmost respect, she looked to have lived a tough life and was clearly a lot older and more experienced than me or my husband at the time. I often find myself making connections with women older than me. I am a seeker and I like to learn. Older women always have something to teach…whether or not they realize that is irrelevant, I think. It’s just a fact.

She purchased some old CDs. I remember one of them being a Taylor Dayne album we had acquired from a random (obviously) wholesale CD order experiment years before Joe got obsessed with vinyl. I almost kept that one, truth be told, because Taylor Dayne reminded me of my sister, but it didn’t have that one good song on it (“Tell It To My Heart”…it’s in your head now, huh?), so I put it out for sale. Next to the CDs, we had a small stack of vinyl for sale and that got her talking: “I’ve got some really good shit at my house. You guys buy?” And, well, that’s the magic question for my husband, so naturally a conversation sparked and numbers were exchanged.

A week later, Joe and I are traveling on a country road past our house—a beautiful area not too far from us that we had shamefully never been out to explore—on our way to her place to pick up this old record collection she was ready to unload. We pulled up to her property and saw two rather run-down, small homes and a hitch trailer with a makeshift white picket fence out front. She crawled down from the trailer, her hair in a long braid, and greeted us, motioning toward one of the dilapidated homes.

The house had fallen into disrepair and she was getting rid of most her possessions to live even more modestly in the hitch trailer. She didn’t have a record player any longer and had collected most of her vinyl through her travels all over the states and overseas. Everything had a story and I’d be lying if I said I remember them all. She wanted CDs now so she could still “get lost in the music” and preferred mostly pop and classical. She had an intense and rather intimidating knowledge of classical composers. The records we obtained had obviously been exposed to the elements, but there were some absolute classics like Sabbath in the lot. And of course all the stories. The stories were the best takeaway. We gave her money and she didn’t want to accept it. I think she was just happy to talk to somebody that gave a fuck.

Months later, I got a knock on the door. It was her. She was on her way home from a housekeeping gig at one the new hotels that opened up nearby because of the influx of oil and gas workers into the area. I talked to her briefly on the front porch about how I missed cleaning hotel rooms before I became a proofreader. She insisted I wasn’t missing anything and to “keep using my brain.” Before leaving, she insisted I come back over to pick up some corn stocks from her garden for Halloween decorations.

I told her I would try to make it down, but I never did. I also never let her in for coffee. Never offered her something to eat. I feel like a completely daft asshole for that. I haven’t spoken to her since. I no longer have her phone number, and I feel strange driving to her trailer not knowing if she is still there. Years later, I realize she taught me some important lessons about myself despite only having three interactions with her. She also taught me the importance of connection. Connecting to people…all kinds of people. Staying connected to the moment. And, for fuck’s sake, invite someone in for coffee.

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