I made the mistake of going without my cleaning lady. I came home with a top of the line Lindenhaus vacuum. It was very powerful and you did not need to switch to clean floors and carpet. It has two types of brushes and it looked simple to use. True, it was big and a little clunky but you did not have to switch heads. I called my cleaning lady to show her what I thought was the next best thing to a robotic vacuum. Her face sank. She was clearly unhappy. She told me she wanted a Miele. I went back to the store and the fabulous owner exchanged the brand new Lindenhaus model for the tried and true Miele. My cleaning lady THANKED ME and was so happy. It was priceless, really. “Who cleans?” she said: “Me or you?”
I left NYC years ago to raise my daughter in the suburbs. I thought a backyard and some more space would be better than the chaotic rush- rush of the city. My adult daughter has settled in the city, chose to live in a 2 bedroom coop with two kids – a boy and a girl, and is sending my grandson to one of the most crowded public school in NYC. There are over 1,100 students in the elementary school. She has managed to find a community of friends, near a playground and park, and is staying put. And all these years, I held out in the suburbs hoping she would settle near us but secretly longing to be back in the city myself. I want to be able to walk to a Starbucks, hop a train, and go to Broadway. And yet, here I am, stuck in the burbs because I cannot afford the city. My daughter is stuck in the city because she cannot afford a decent home in the suburbs. Can anyone explain this?
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The thing that got me started thinking about my “stuff” was a conversation I had with a complete stranger while we were standing on line at the Marriott in Birmingham, AL. I was there visiting my step children. Out of the blue, the woman in front of me on the line for breakfast omelets started telling me that she was in Birmingham to clean out her mother’s estate. She could not believe how much stuff she had to go through. She said she wished that her mother had given her a manual full of stories because she could not fathom the reason behind the items. What did they mean to her mother? To her they were just junk. She could not make heads or tails out of the clutter and she did not have the time to go through all of it. She had to get back to Texas to work.
When we got home, I looked around my tiny beach cottage home. I saw all the paintings that no one will be able to store even if they wanted to. I saw my furniture through the eyes of my daughter and step children. I have Ethan Allen traditional pieces alongside garage sale chic. Every item has a story. But who had time to tell the story and who had time to listen?
And besides, the adult kids all want West Elm. They aren’t interest in our stuff.