free with a one-night stay.

Thing 1: Shoes
Mike showed up in his work clothes. One of Josh's old high school buddies, he was planning on staying the night with us. He came straight from his job at the bank, so he brought a change of clothes but forgot to bring any shoes besides his dress loafers. Josh has a bunch of shoes that he doesn't wear much. He buys them at the thrift store because they're $3.50 and they fit and because he can't get over the fact that some people apparently wear a pair of shoes once and then get rid of them. He pulled a pair of brown Adidas out of the closet that looked brand new and told Mike to just keep them. No, really, dude, it's fine.

Thing 2: Player Piano
At some point during the evening, we all went up into the library. Mike's visited a few times, but this was the first time he'd ever been in this room, this book-lovers sanctuary. Josh's book buying has slowed down as of late, but it still goes on at an unsustainable pace. Besides the completely full shelves, there are stacks of books on the floor that haven't quite made it into the (unimplemented) organizational system.

"Wow, next time I want a book to read, I'll just ask you," Mike said.

"What kind of books do you like to read?"


I went over to a specific shelf, the free shelf. We often upgrade our books when we find a nicer copy of one we already have; the extra copy goes on this shelf to be given away to anyone who might want it. We're not big sci-fi readers, but I did find a copy of Player Piano, so I handed it over to Mike.

Thing 3: Maps
The next morning, Mike was taking a self-guided tour of the living room. This happens a lot - visitors just walk around looking at the weird things that we have surrounded ourselves with. He enjoyed reading the entry about Hitler in our set of 1934 dictionaries (the entry concludes with his 1923 imprisonment), he remarked on the sheer number of clocks, and he also noticed the maps. One he liked in particular was of Europe by Blaeu. These maps are a neat style. Aside from the geographical information, they also have little vignettes of people from different areas featured on the map, showing them in traditional dress. Plus, sometimes there are pictures of sea monsters in the oceans.

I bought this map in a set of several at a yard sale. I had sent some duplicates to my sister, but the rest of them had been sitting upstairs since I bought them, waiting for frames. Without a thought, I offered him the rest of the maps to him. I have enough maps on the walls (not that I won't ever put up more!).

I guess the point is that we have a lot of stuff, and it's true that we accumulate more than we end up using. A lot goes back into the secondhand market. But we give away a lot of stuff, too. It's so easy to be generous when things cost so little. And when it turns out that someone we know could use something we just happen to have, it's like fate that we bought it in the first place.

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