Head of School’s Notebook: Fortunate Moments

November 2, 2022

We all tend to accumulate a lot of stuff over the course of our lives, far more than we need. Maybe that is why there is such a proliferation of storage facilities around the country. We need more space for the things that we can’t use or don’t really need. A friend of mine in the storage business noted that we accumulate somewhere in the neighborhood of a thousand pounds of new stuff a year. That’s a ton every two years. I can’t believe that is a good thing for us or our planet.

Moving, of course, lends greater urgency to the issue because we have to figure out what to do with all of our stuff. Most of our excess in the Williams family is furniture left over from raising kids and outfitting their rooms. It has been stored for the better part of a decade, now that the kids are grown and gone to their own homes, in the basement of Mesa House. Beginning last spring, we have been giving much of it away to people who can use it. Whatever happens, we tell ourselves, we want to keep the stuff out of a landfill.

It was in this spirit that we sought a new home for a lofted bedframe that we built for our eldest son many years ago. Ginger connected on Facebook Marketplace with a young woman, and we agreed to meet her in the Albertsons’ parking lot to make the exchange. All she needed was a vehicle capable of carrying the bedframe, which broke down into three pieces.

A few hours later, we are sitting in our truck at the appointed spot, and a minivan pulls up across from us with Montana plates. If this was our “buyer” there must be karma at work here. Sure enough, out pops a twentysomething native Montanan who had recently moved to the area with her incredibly friendly dog. We bonded immediately. As luck would have it, our pups were in our truck, and Hopper jumped out to visit with this new acquaintance. Friendliness abounded.

It only got better when we transferred the bedframe to the minivan because there were at least seven more dogs in there, four of them puppies. Apparently, the bedframe’s new owner cares for dogs on many days. That is the reason that she wanted our frame because she could slide her dog crates underneath it. What better home could there be for our piece of furniture?

We traded stories about Montana and the Central Coast before we parted. We told her about our home in the Beartooths while she shared her life skiing all over the state. And somehow we managed to get the bedframe and all the dogs back into the minivan and close the door.

We drove off in opposite directions, and Ginger and I noted that the whole experience was strangely affirming like we had seen a part of our family on its way. And we felt a certain satisfaction at the life we imagined for it next.

It’s silly, I know. We’re talking about a piece of furniture. Maybe it’s just that we liked the idea of playing some small part in another life that is beginning on the Central Coast. We know what it is like to begin anew here, to find our footing in a community of people, to learn how and when to call a place home.

Maybe that’s why it is so satisfying, as we contemplate leaving, to know another with whom we share certain commonalities who is just starting out. Hard to believe so much can be made of an old bedframe, but my experience is that things are often far more than they seem. And every moment – to borrow from my Fortunate Life presentation – has meaning.