Last Chance Mercantile

August 2, 2007 at 9:06 pm Leave a comment

Last Chance Mercantile. It’s this vast place in the foggy outer plains of Marina, affectionately also known as “The Dump,” but the idea is that what could turn out into the landfill has a “last chance” to be found and purchased by those who are savvy enough to shop there. Russ and I stopped by many times; that’s where we got the door for the shed, supplies for the van, and we always had this ecstatic feeling that we sort of had one over the general population by finding extra cool stuff real cheap, and we helped out our beautiful Mother Earth by reusing unwanted items.

Over the past year and a half, I’ve been there many, many times, not to shop, but to leave a multitude of Russ’ possessions. I’ve become intimate with the place in a way that only people in my position could possibly understand.

There is a section that is a sea of Port A Pots and walkers, and I added Russ’ to it today. Why did I wait a year and a half to add it to that pile? From the first time I saw the line up of the Port A Pots, I could almost see the ghosts of the dead lingering around there, blundering around to go to the bathroom, and perhaps I wanted the passage of time to give him the dignity to firmly become a ghost before dumping that item with the rest.

Early on, with one of the first large loads that actually a friend delivered, I became convinced that the only recording of his sweet voice was taken there. It hit me all at once in the parking lot of the Marina, with his family around, making plans to have lunch and suddenly I was bawling to their total mystification and I had to get to the Last Chance right away. I pawed through the piles of stuff over and over, not finding that familiar blue tin marked “Dark Horse.”  That’s when I learned that items are not kept more than a week, and then they do go to the landfill.

I know what it means when I see collections; today I saw several portfolios of beautiful drawings, a short lifetime of a budding talent in pastels, oils, pencil. The age of death can be so easily determined by what is left behind, and it’s those collections that can identify that it’s a death, not a Spring Cleaning project. On a trip with my sister, we saw what must have been a room full of albums in neat alphabetical order of tunes from the 20’s, then sprawled across a table for 50 cents each. 

Over the past year and a half, I’ve thought a lot about things. It is of course true, that adage about how we are not about our things, that we can’t take our things with us to the Other Side, and we can clutter up our lives with things, and we shouldn’t cry over broken things and on and on and on. Yet, things, I think, do hold some spirit of the person. What I love, and I know Russ did too, is coming across a mystery thing, like at Last Chance, and somehow being “called” to pick it up and hold it for awhile, and being drawn to enjoy it, or maybe being the one who knows what it is for, where maybe the loved ones of that person had no idea, and then taking that thing home to incorporate it into our life.

I had a really hard time letting Russ’ shoes and clothing go. His dad was the one who made my eyes get real bright when he sincerely said that someone could be using those items if I could just turn them in. He was being practical, which was smart. The purpose of things is to let them be used. Not to hold them tight.

So, today, after my drop off of the Port A Pot and some of my own Spring Cleaning items, I wandered around. I admired the drawings of the young woman and wondered about her life. I found little goose figurines that I knew my mother would love, and she would appreciate that they were only a dollar each. There was a couple clearly sorting for their antique store or for resale; they had three carts lined up, and hardly glanced around at anyone. Another lady was lingering over some glasses, taking her time, pondering, perhaps sensing the spirit of the former owners who might have been convincing her to take them home.

Will someday my life be hauled off in jumbled heaps to Last Chance? I guess so. It’s not such a bad thing. No one in my current family could possibly know the value or use of every thing I own, as I couldn’t have known about Russ’ things. We have led lives full of varied interests.  So there, Goodwill, garage sales, it will all go…and maybe, an artist, a Russ character, a happy silly couple starting a new project, will pick up something of mine, as I hope people have of Russ… getting a warm, inspired sense, finding the thing irresistible, telling friends, “Hey, I scored at Last Chance!”



Entry filed under: Ruminations.

Low Tide Morning Boredom

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