In bright air and a slanting, lovely light, the auctioneers were preaching the virtues of a heavy maul, metal porch chairs, Easter hats, Tom Mix comic books, costume jewelry, tool sets, a toy train, a tank with a broken tread. Strangers wandered through aisles of boxes, picking up, handling, judging value, estimating price, calculating weight. Strangers stood in the cold rooms of the home and bent over tables of items later to be sold. Strangers smoked on the lawn, waiting.
What would you carry with you if you had to leave in the night? Play the game. Grant yourself this: you are traveling to a warm, dry house, one with shelves stocked with food and medicine. Your safety deposit box remains snug in its vault. You retain your occupation and possess cash at hand. Your loved ones sit next to you. You have space for very little else.
I will pack a box of books, a shotgun and shells, two or three of my wife’s paintings, an envelope of photographs, a packet of financial information, a few tools, an address book, my computer, one suitcase of clothes, my dog, and my wife’s equal range of choices. Seal the door shut. The car is packed.
I don’t want to leave much for the strangers when they come.