From Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed:
The summer I was 18 I was driving down a country road with my mother. This was in the rural county where I grew up and all of the roads were country, the houses spread out over miles, hardly any of them in sight of a neighbor. Driving meant going past an endless stream of trees and fields and wildflowers. On this particular afternoon, my mother and I came upon a yard sale at a big house where a very old woman lived alone, her husband dead, her kids grown and gone.
“Let’s look and see what she has,” my mother said as we passed, so I turned the car around and pulled into the old woman’s driveway and the two of us got out.
We were the only people there. Even the old woman whose sale it was didn’t come out of the house, only waving to us from a window. It was August, the last stretch of time that I would I live with my mother. I’d completed my first year of college by then and I’d returned home for the summer because I’d gotten a job in a nearby town. In a few weeks I’d go back to college and I’d never again live in the place I called home, though I didn’t know that then.
There was nothing much of interest at the yard sale, I saw, as I made my way among the junk—old cooking pots and worn-out board games; incomplete sets of dishes in faded, unfashionable colors and appalling polyester pants—but as I turned away, just before I was about to suggest that we should go, something caught my eye.
It was a red velvet dress trimmed with white lace, fit for a toddler.
“Look at this,” I said and held it up to my mother, who said oh isn’t that the sweetest thing and I agreed and then set the dress back down.
In a month I’d be 19. In a year I’d be married. In three years I’d be standing in a meadow not far from that old woman’s yard holding the ashes of my mother’s body in my palms. I was pretty certain at that moment that I would never be a mother myself. Children were cute, but ultimately annoying, I thought then. I wanted more out of life. Read More…