2.22.2009

ran•dom

adj.lacking any definite plan or order or purpose;
governed by or depending on chance


i have known for many years that i thrive on spontaneity and that i lack discipline in the things that require repetition. i have also know for many years that i have a love for garage sales and estate sales.

but yesterday, i realized something after stopping at an estate sale on my way home from a teeth-cleaning appointment at the dentist. i realized that garage sales and estate sales are, for me, less about finding a bargain and more about the thrill and excitement of finding something random or unexpected. 99% of all garage or estate sales that i have ever been to were discovered by chance while driving from one place to an intended other place. i am not the sort to seek out these one-of-a-kind treasure-filled sales. i don't look in the newspaper to find out who is having a sale during the coming weekends.

instead, it is only after i am at least fifty yards (as in measurement, not lawns) beyond the bright neon green poster that droops from a crooked, wobbly wood stake in the grass and contains sloppily written black letters indicating a sale that i make a decision to stop. nothing perks up my eyes like a sign that says "SALE" especially if it is handwritten and is in someone's yard.

so yesterday, as i drove through a town i rarely go through anymore, i could not help but notice the big house on the corner with a sign that read "estate sale, saturday 9-5, Sunday 10-1". i am surprised i noticed, as the conditions outside were blizzard-like, and the wind was blowing the sign so hard, that it was curling up and almost not readable. but someone like me always knows these signs when she sees them. it would take a lot more than a blizzard to keep my sale radar from going off.

it was 10:45 a.m., and i needed to be at the dentist by 11:15. no time to stop. i thought, "crap! all the good stuff will be gone by the time i can get back." i was tempted to be late to my appointment. but alas, i did the responsible thing and kept on driving. i decided i could always stop on the way back home from the dentist.

besides, i did not have the money to be spending—even if it was on inexpensive, used items. but while laying back in the dentist chair listening to all the unpleasant sounds that go along with a teeth-cleaning, i could not stop thinking about what kind of great items i might find in the historic house on the corner. i imagined beautiful antiques—some pretty glass items, some great old books—maybe even some vintage jewelry or clothing.

i made up my mind before the dentist reached my second molar on the bottom right, that i was going back. and that is exactly what i did—on my way home. i felt i deserved it. after all, i had gotten out of my warm bed on a blustery winter morning to brave the treacherous roads and go have my gums poked and prodded. teeth cleaning happens once every six months like clockwork for me. it's definitely something you could consider mundane—even if it is not a frequent event. so i felt i owed it to myself to be spontaneous and stop at this sale. remember—spontaneity is what i thrive on.

and the best part about a garage or estate sale is the randomness. not knowing what to expect or what the outcome of your visit will be. remember when the word random was such a buzz word a few years ago? everyone was saying "how random!" or something like that. it was starting to get annoying. but i do like the word. it's even part of my subtitle for this blog. randomness is, for me, the spice of life—the unexpected, the unknown, the unforeseen. a life without random would be a dull life, for sure.

when i reached the sale, i knew i had a small amount of cash in my wallet. i purposefully did not take it into the house with me. i went in just to see what i might see. if i found something i just had to have, i would return to my car to see if i had enough cash for it.

i browsed around only to find that there was not much for me there. there were several vintage dresses that caught my eye, but most of them were too small or too yellowed or both. i found a beautiful wood armchair from the 1960s—it was a great style that would have gone perfect with the furniture i already own. but it was $25 and i knew i did not have quite that much money with me—nor do i have the room in my house for more furniture.

i almost gave up and left, thinking i had seen all there was to see. then, one of the daughters of the elderly woman whose belongings were being sold was moving several CDs to another table, and this caught my eye. i'm so glad it did. the woman who lived there was a lover of classical music. she had several CDs. most did not interest me, because i already had the music that was on them, or they contained music by composers i do not like.

but then i came across a CD that still had the original packaging on it. it had never been opened. the date on the back was 1994, so it had sat unopened for the last 15 years. i looked to see what the music was, and to my delight, it was string quartets op. 9, nos. 1, 3 and 4 by franz joseph haydn. i was pretty sure i did not have these already and i do like haydn's music very much! so i decided—this would be my purchase {plus the pair of crocheted earrings i had thought about picking up earlier}. the CD was $3 and the earrings were $2. i was pretty sure i would have enough.

i went out to my car to get my wallet, and i had exactly $5 {five $1 bills}. it was meant to be! i returned to the house to pay and then went on my way. my whole ride home, i listened to my new CD. it was very good! these string quartets were recorded in an old church in budapest. sometimes the recording quality or the performances of a CD are lacking, but not so in this case. these were exceptionally performed and recorded. and these are some beautiful pieces written by this contemporary of mozart.

my entire ride home was filled with sweet music while my face was adorned with a delightful smile—smiling at the thought of the random find, the random act of stopping, the random joy that made my day—all for three little dollars. and i'm listening to it again now as i type. it has quickly become among my favorite works by this composer.

so for you, i recommend this CD. it is a 1994 release of a 1992 recording put out by naxos, performed by the kodaly quartet. you may not be able to find it for $3, and it may not be as randomly found, but it is still worth every penny and effort for you to purchase.

5 comments:

beth said...

my brakes come to a screeching halt when I see "those signs" as I also love the thrill of finding something out of the ordinary and I almost always do.
I love estate sales best...as I love to see the inside of the houses where someone lived and it feels strange when I'm buying the drinking glasses of someone who has been moved to a nursing home....but I always think that she would have a smile on her face knowing that her "old, cool designed, can't find these brand new" glasses made happy :)

Char said...

some things are truly meant to be...I love discoveries such as this.

Sara said...

All things random that have happened to me, are mostly the incidents/things I cherish the most!
I am glad a random even has left you with a smile.
PS I love the picture.

Claire said...

because of the crime situation in south africa, people no longer have these types of sales and i really miss them. one reason to be excited about ireland.

we went to visit friends of our last night and the wife has just bought an old antique piano for her husband. it is a beautiful french make. calvin and i just lay on the couch as he played for hours on end. i thought of you. i would love to share a musical moment with you.

kat said...

Great to read about your random discovery!