It began with an offhand discussion over lunch with a friend. Number one on my bucket list is cleaning the house, she said. Come on, I reasoned, what’s a little dust. She leaned closer. It’s not the dust I’m talking about.
Before our conversation took a serious turn, we’d been enjoying a Caesar salad and glass of wine after an incredible morning at the mall. We were going over our purchases and one-upping each other with the great deals we’d scored. We’d saved a fortune on everything we bought. Almost enough for another shopping trip. There’s nothing more uplifting than saleing with a friend unless it’s maybe a week in Mexico with a group of friends.
She tapped a painted fingernail against the rim of her glass and arched a tweezed brow. If anything happens to me, I don’t want the family or snoopy do-gooders going through my personal stuff.
My friend had my attention. I wondered what personal stuff she was talking about. You mean journals, I asked. Journals have always been a big thing with me. It made me wonder where I’d put all my diaries and notebooks. Here, there, and everywhere. It got me thinking about what I wrote in them. After all these years, who knows.
It’s none of their business, she continued. I won’t have them pawing through my intimate letters, cards, and certain ... things. She forked around the croutons to spear another garlicky leaf.
Being the inquisitive – okay, nosy – person that I am, I was curious about what was in the letters and who had signed the cards. Maybe she’d give it up after another glass of wine. I looked for our waitress. Things were getting interesting.
We made silly jokes about kids finding their granddad’s Viagra and wondering why granny bought batteries by the gross. Kid proofing the house shouldn’t necessarily end when the children grow up. We giggled, then got serious, and then laughed some more. Imagining the craziest things that families might discover – and probably do − when they’re clearing out houses and apartments of the elderly.
It made me think of my cluttered storage room and realize it was unfair to expect family or strangers to sort through all that junk. That’s when she mentioned the bucket list again and wanted to know about mine. Knowing that organizing a garage sale was not worthy of bucket list designation, I didn’t know what to say. I’ve never been one of those people who plan on doing certain things before the final curtain.
At her insistence that I must have something on my ‘to do before I die’ list, I took a deep breath. Okay, I said. Before I kick off, I want at least one of my novels published. A shopping trip to New York. She nodded and motioned for more. A Mediterranean cruise. Her expression told me I was getting the hang of it. To eat as much as I want and never gain weight. I’d gone too far. This was a bucket list not a fantasy.
Thinking of her urgency to clean out her house, I felt dull and boring. Not only did I not have a list of to do’s before I die, I didn’t even have anything to hide. Not a stash of erotic novels, or a stash of smouldering love letters, or a stash of anything else for that matter. My shopping-inspired happy hormones were evaporating faster than the wine in my glass. Her life sounded far more exciting than mine did. There was nothing I’d be leaving behind that would raise anyone’s eyebrows.
My friend understood. It looked like she was genuinely sorry for me. She offered a suggestion. Maybe instead of cleaning out your house you should be tucking a few things here and there − out of the way, of course. A few things of interest. Like what, I wanted to know. Should I forge some letters and leave personal souvenirs behind, I asked with a touch of sarcasm.
She smiled. Then I smiled. It was a high five moment but we kept our cool.
Granny and Gramps had the right idea. Leave ’em wondering.