The Flow of Stuff

Water St.

I was cleaning for the cleaner, and noticed a brown paper bag, at the bottom of a pile of bags, in my closet. It contained a few baseball hats, a few CDs, and a very, very small dark blue hoodie. I remember sister #2 (in age order) saying to me- but I couldn’t remember time or place, just her voice in my ear, “It’s his favorite hoodie. He really misses it.” So I knew whose hoodie it was (nephew #5)- but I had no idea how this bag got here.

I have a big family, and the majority of us live in the same Metropolitan Area (yes this is an official term!). Thus, I have noticed a certain Gulf Stream-style flow of stuff going from Monterey to San Jose, Berkeley to San Francisco. At any given family congregation (or small excuse thereof), there will be brown paper bags full of random personal items like this bag. At one book club my brother in law was actually throwing books at me as I left, hoping to get them to land in one of the bags I was carrying, and thus reaching hte ultimate goal fo the flow of stuff: to get random things off of your hands.

On the phone to one sister today, I said: “Guess what I found. A Hilary Duff CD.” I’m tempted to rip it on my powerbook tonight before I hand it over to the niece who sat on my lap whining and wondering, big eyes in my face, if I could look “just one more time” in my apartment for her beloved Hilary Duff CD. I dragged her over to eBay and we scoured all of the titles trying to find it.

Usually it’s a bag of books- random mysteries and maybe a kitchen utensil or two. Sometimes bags like this will just “appear.” Sister replied to me: “Yeah, I think so and so left it the other day when we were doing something. Is this other CD in there?” She knew the contents so well- but neglected to tell me that sister #1 had dropped it off for sister #2 via the apartment of sister #4.

Family who is not geographically close by, but really good with the postal service, end up joining the Flow of Stuff. My sister in Baltimore (#3) gets a random package from me of high quality selections of my closet, as my sister-in-law #1 gets the DVD costume dramas that make the rounds via postal service. She told me sincerely, to join the Flow of Stuff: “I’m really good at sending things.” I told her the direction the Gulf Stream went, and off she went, watching my beloved North & South.


  1. Comment by HB

    Posted on April 25, 2007 at 3:46 pm

    A- I have the exact same experience. I am always amused when, as a single gal in her thirties, I find size 4 Toddler PJs in my apartment.

  2. Comment by BoatGirl

    Posted on May 4, 2007 at 11:22 am

    The Flow of Stuff in my (quite small) family goes: mother in RI to USPS to me in CA. Me on phone to brother in FL “This is yours. Do you want it back? No? OK.” Into CA landfill.
    Highly unfortunate.

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