The Vanished Man

September 23, 2009 at 2:32 pm | Posted in Finds | 4 Comments

electronics-junk-box234Last Saturday, an ad was placed on Craigslist stating that an entire apartment in our town was being emptied and the stuff would be put out for free at 1 p.m. … So we two scavengers and a handful of others showed up. A cleanup team was bringing stuff out one box at a time. Some of it — like some very gross food — they poured directly into the Dumpster. But most of the stuff they set out along the sidewalk. We assumed that the tenant had died, but then talked to a neighbor who said she’d heard a rumor that the guy had simply walked away one day without paying rent, leaving everything behind.

Apartment or house clearouts are always very humanizing and interesting experiences and these, too, are a kind of spiritual thing because you are suddenly seeing someone’s life unfiltered, and by picking through their stuff you are (a) being a creepy little vermin, like a rat, but also (b) “inheriting” their things that would otherwise be thrown away and cease to mean anything to anyone.

It’s also interesting in a historical and psychological sense because all the stuff is clues to who this vanished person was. So from that apartment’s stuff, we concluded the following: that the former tenant was a very, very large man (we could tell from the size of the clothes); that he liked guns (there were holsters, ammunition boxes, and paper targets full of holes); that he liked comics (there were piles of comics, some carefully preserved in cellophane wrappers); and that he loved porn. There was soooo much porn … videos, magazines … which made us jump to the conclusion that, along with everything else, the guy was really lonely. Why do we assume that? Surely some happy and/or sexually active people who are not at all lonely also like porn. But man. There were like tons of it, mostly magazines from the ’80s.

To be honest, there really wasn’t much we wanted to take, even though it was all free. I found a couple of very large T-shirts in solid black which I might hem really short and paint with whimsical designs, which is something I’ve been meaning to do ever since I acquired (for free) a bag of fabric paints.

I also found a nice polished green stone among the guy’s belongings, which I kept. I just hope he never used it in any way connected with the porn.


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