Lounging in Pat’s Pad. (Photo by Tim Sullivan)

My mother-in-law downsized and moved into the ‘Garden Apartment’ on the bottom floor of our house. We’re field-testing ways to refer to Pat’s new digs, so feel free to weigh in (but don’t you dare call it a basement). The furnishings that would adorn Pat’s Pied-a’-Terre (?) were selected and various pieces were parceled out to her five daughters, but a trove of stuff remained to be dealt with. With China sets galore and a fleet of lighthouse-themed knickknacks, we could have opened a pop-up shop selling Grandma Chic to millennials.

Kristen and I began purging our own things to clear space in the house. We had so many giveaway postings on “Buy Nothing Decatur” that people thought we were moving. A woman in a tiny hatchback came to claim our sectional sofa. It was laughably aspirational, but since I have both a minivan and a wife who likes to volunteer me for things, I provided door-to-door service that evening out Candler Road (sans laughter). The next day we delivered and installed a queen bed and headboard for an older couple in Avondale Estates. The FREE business was booming!

We shifted to selling some furniture online. As much as the undervaluation of quality items chafes the businessman in me, it seems it’s a buyer’s market out there since every transaction went something like this:

Buyer: U posted that circa 1930’s bureau for $25. Will u take $15?
Seller: I guess so?
Buyer: Thanx. Can u hold it until Tuesday so I can show my boyfriend?
Seller: Umm, can you show it to him any sooner? Is he in prison or something? HA!    Buyer: … 
Seller: I notice you didn’t reply. I apologize if he actually is in prison. Didn’t mean to be insensitive or anything. 
Buyer: No. He’s somewhere else.
Seller: OK. I guess I’ll go ahead and hold it for you then?
Buyer: Thanx. Message u Thursday. 

Our venture into internet sales concluded with shoving a brutally heavy TV cabinet (value $350, sale price $35) into a Subaru Sprite wagonette. I wept for whoever was on the other end of that detail. The last piece to move was an Ethan Allen dresser from the 1960’s that belonged to Pat’s late husband Bob. We carried it up to the top floor of Kristen’s sister Kara’s house and I felt accomplished and even a bit emotional knowing that Bob’s dresser would remain in the family. But I also felt a knifing pain in my lower back. Rule of thumb: If you ever wonder whether you are too old to move furniture, the answer is yes – you are indeed too old.

A head-scratching by-product of the weak, pandemic economy is that so many people bought bigger houses. Maybe in addition to a home office, a dedicated Peloton wing is this year’s must have? Prices skyrocketed, inventory is low, paying over asking price is routine AND the movers were all booked. So, to recap, it’s exceedingly easy to acquire stuff these days but you might not have anywhere to put it or anyone to help you move it.
I missed the yard sale of Pat’s smaller items while I was nursing my aching back. They sold a bunch though – pre-printed stickers for $1 and $2 can really supercharge sales. By all accounts, it was a feel-good event and the crowd was quite pleasant to deal with.  Maybe they haven’t discovered online shopping yet?

Pat is settled into her Terrace Level Flat (?) now. She and the kids have always enjoyed a close relationship but there is something about living under the same roof and having dinner together nightly that strengthens bonds even further. Each evening before bedtime, Elliott heads downstairs to hang out with his grandmother. Perhaps clearing out the old stuff helped get us to the good stuff. They are like two peas in a pod, not that I’m calling her apartment a pod, of course.


Tim Sullivan grew up in a large family in the Northeast and now lives with his small family in Oakhurst. He can be reached at tim@sullivanfinerugs.com.