At my father’s memorial service, the flowers were arranged to look like a baseball and his closest friends showed their respects by standing and ceremoniously replacing their own hats with Red Sox caps. That’s how much of a ball fan my dad was. So a year later when I spotted a baseball-themed photograph at an arts fair in Ann Arbor, Michigan, I purchased it on impulse with sentimental tears in my eyes. It was a close-up of a dirt-smudged baseball in the grass, called “Foul Ball,” and that forgotten ball perfectly depicted how I’d felt since my dad died: alone.
I got it home (all the way to Seattle) before I really thought about my purchase. It didn’t exactly go with the rest of my home decor. And it was a fairly large piece, so attempting to blend it in anywhere was impossible. So it sat. And sat and sat and sat.
Eventually I hung it in the room that became my home office, on a wall that was mostly covered when the door was open. It still didn’t go with anything, but it was fairly unobtrusive there and made me smile whenever I passed – both because it reminded me of my dad and because it was such a silly thing for me to have hauled half-way across the country. When my office was repurposed last year to become a nursery, the photo was taken down and again sat and sat and sat in the basement, awaiting its fate.
It’s been nearly a decade now since my dad died, so the heavy emotional connection to that silly foul ball has mostly worn off…. but not entirely. I’d decided that it was time to pass the photo on, but not anonymously to a Goodwill or the like where I’d have no idea of its eventual resting place. I wanted to make sure it went to someone who would truly appreciate it, and I wanted to hand it to that person. So I listed it on Freecycle Seattle*. In under an hour, I had a response from a woman who wanted the photo, who learned to love the game from her late father, and who confessed “I hope it won’t take me out of the running when I say I’m a Red Sox fan.”
Did you catch that? A Red Sox fan. Ding, ding, ding, we have a winner!
She came by later that afternoon to collect her prize, and I was able to pass on my baseball photo to someone I felt would take excellent care of my sentimental baggage. And that is just one of the many things I love about Freecycle.
*If you’re not familiar, Freecycle is a place to offer items you no longer want/need to other members of the Freecycle group in your area (there are Freecycle groups all over – check for one in your city). The items are listed by members, other members express an interest, a pick-up is arranged, and your discarded stuff stays out of a landfill… at least for a little while longer. It’s like Craig’s List’s free section, only less creepy. In the great basement clean-up of 2011, I’ve freecycled half-used bags of dog food, a Swiffer wet jet, a door mirror, a small cooler, and my old Barbie collection. Anything that might be useful to someone else is fair game. People list all sorts of random stuff, and most of it gets claimed – I’ve even seen people freecycle their dinner leftovers! Check it out and – as Freecycle’s email footer suggests – be part of the solution.