Betty J. Slade



    Freeing the Monkey

    Should we free the monkey or keep it and feed it? That’s where we are in our lives.

    I’ve tried to free the monkey off my back and My Sweet Al keeps his on a leash. He’s even named his, “It’s Mine.”

    It was time for Lisa, our Organizer, aka Marriage Therapist, to help us again. My Sweet Al spent hours telling stories to Lisa about every item that came out of his closet.

    I found it humorous as I listened to the two of them. She treated his things with the upmost respect and his stories with patient attention. I would have thrown those shirts into a black sack and passed them on. He tried on a brand new pair of western boots he had never worn. They were too small when he bought them, he worried he would never get his money out of them, so he said he’d just keep them. Apparently, she said the right thing because they ended up in the Upscale Sack.

    I was not off the hook either. I spent the day emptying a five-drawer filing cabinet and four-drawer desk, with most of it going into the burn pile. Everything left is now filed and in place in the desk and the filing cabinet is gone.

    This whole process wears me out. This monkey seems docile enough, even trained to entertain, but demands all of our attention. I’m ready for it to go to another owner. Someone else who needs to feel empowered. They can pet the monkey for awhile.

    Our daughter called and invited us on her road trip to Salida. Road trips with the girls and Al is trying a new restaurant, buying a few keepsakes and listening to a good book on tape. It all sounded fun. I said to her, “Salida? What in the world is in Salida? I was born and raised in Colorado and I remember Salida as a little girl. Not much there. A little farming town.”

    “Not any more. It’s the new hot spot for the 30 plus, bars, eateries, gourmet restaurants and antique shops. The up-and-comers are moving into Salida from Denver and remodeling those cute gingerbread homes.”

    She had heard about a new shop called “Free the Monkey.” She said her mission was to pick up a couple of antiques, which she passed up a month earlier. She wanted to find them again. So, some of us are still acquiring and the others are trying to scale down.

    I said, “I am going along for the adventure. I need to get away from all the junk I’m sorting. I’m not buying. Don’t let me buy. Please don’t let me bring one thing home.”

    My Sweet Al and I and our two daughters set out to discover an old town with new progressive ideas. We sat in our driveway for fifteen minutes, made final bathroom trips into the house, read the backs of books-on-tapes, getting prepared for the drive. Our daughter said, “Traveling with older people will be a different experience. It’s going to be a leisurely day and will be fun.  I can see it already.”

    We laughed and pulled out of the driveway. We weren’t but one mile down the Lower Blanco before she spotted a huge garage sale. She jerked the wheel and turned into the neighbor’s front yard. We all sprung out of the car without any prompting. I left my purse in the car not to be tempted.

    Of course we found things we couldn’t resist, like stadium seats, a wicker plant stand and other things, which called our names. The back end of the car was filled and we made plans to pick up other purchases the next day.

    It was fun seeing several neighbors we hadn’t seen since our last big garage sale. I recognized the mother of the man who bought Al’s dead turtle. Apparently, Al was still holding on to it in his mind. “That was my mother’s pet turtle, her initials are written on it in fingernail polish. The turtle had gotten lost in the garage.”

    I was content and ready to go home and wanted to call it a day. But no, the day had just begun. My daughter said let’s take this stuff back to the house. We won’t have room for what we might find.

    We turned around and drove home with other people’s things. Our daughter hit the garage door button and pulled quietly into the garage and closed the door. We were sneaking back onto our own property. We knew if our son saw us he would give us a lecture. He had been helping us get rid of things. Now we were sneaking a few treasures onto the property and we didn’t want him to ruin our fun.

    We hit Salida’s antique stores and bought our fair share of things and loved everything we bought. What were we thinking?  We had just spent weeks getting rid of things and now there is new junk in our garage.

    Our daughter asked if it bother us that so many expensive items we were seeing, we had sold in the last few years for a few dollars?  Like Al’s mother’s purple grapes, which we sold for $5.00 and were for sale for $350.00. Life is weird.

    We keep moving the monkey from one neighbor to another. Setting the monkey free is harder than one would think. We will feed it until the next garage sale until we can pass it on to one of the other neighbors.

    Final Brushstroke! It hit me odd – all the breweries spilled out onto Main Street, each packed with 50 or so yuppies in their North Face puffer jackets, laughing, drinking and freezing. Life’s a zoo with caged monkeys. We happily headed home to our slower life style and our own monkeys. Our daughter just called and said, “How about another road trip this weekend to Gunnison?”


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