Sunday, March 14, 2010

My Favorite Rummage Sale Story

Those of you who have met me personally, know that I am English; I moved to California on October 30, 1996. Seat 49C, Virgin Atlantic flight # VS019 arrived at SFO at 2:50pm, to be exact. Not that it was significant or anything.

Five years prior to that or maybe ten, I forget (it wasn't as momentous as arriving in the US,) I bought a dress from Marks & Spencer, a British High Street chain. It was a floaty, swingy, summer dress with tiny flowers printed on it.

I loved that dress. It was loose, which meant I could gain a few pounds and hide them. It had crinkly fabric, which meant I didn't need to iron it. It hid my knees.

I wore that dress over and over for many years but fast forward to 2008 and it was time to say goodbye. It had been worn to death and reincarnated several times but it was now finally the end. My crinkly dress became a rumpled mess in my upstairs bathroom wastebasket.

One day, last May, a certain Michelle met me. It was the Rummage Sale cleanup rave. The day before we had had great success, pulling in $$$ way over target. She invited me, in that silky way of hers, to clean up books. And she insisted that I take a look around for something that might take my fancy.

Initially, I demurred. Frankly, Rummage Sale leftovers aren't typically inspiring. But boxing up hundreds of books isn't terribly thrilling either so I decided to take her advice. I walked around the toys but pieces spilled from puzzles. I walked around Media but all the Dead CDs were gone. And then. Gasp. I stopped.

Everything stopped. My heart. My lungs. The world. For there, on a hanger, was a very familiar-looking dress. Surely not? Could it be? I don't believe it! It was. 5000 miles and 17 (or was it 22) years later, there at a Rummage Sale in California, USA, was an identical floaty, summer M&S dress with tiny flowers printed upon it.

In my size.

I have worn that dress many times in the year since. And told many people my story. It makes me, and them, smile. You see, magic can happen in the unlikeliest of places; where it's dusty and dirty and cold. The SCCLC Rummage Sale appears a rare place for magic and wizardry. But as my story shows, it can make Harry Potters of us all.

Thank you to all the wonderful volunteers today, it was a tough day, and special thanks to the Food Fairies who seem to flutter in, leave their gifts, then fly away without me even seeing them, let alone having a chance to thank them. We will be back in business tomorrow.

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