No holes, no stains

Steph and I went to Goodwill often, sometimes as donors, more often as customers. We went to Goodwill stores in San Francisco, in Kansas City, and in Madison. We went to Goodwill stores in Beloit and Janesville, just for fun, while we were on day trips around Wisconsin. Good prices for good stuff, supporting a nonprofit that does good work.

The chair I'm sitting in came from Goodwill, as did one of the shelves in the Shrine, and one of Stephanie's three slideboards, and the giant sun/sculpture/thingie she liked so much (which is still on the wall), and lots of other things in this cluttered apartment.

After her death, the Goodwill on Madison's eastside got most of Stephanie's clothes, some of our plates and cups, and almost all her other other stuff, unless it held some strong sentimental attachment.

Yesterday I drove to that same Goodwill store to get some shirts and stuff. Hadn't realized it until pulling into the parking lot, but this was my first visit since giving them so much of Stephanie's stuff, ten and eleven months ago. And of course, it was weird walking into the place without her, but that's something I've almost grown accustomed to. It's always an odd feeling to enter some shop or restaurant or the library, anywhere that Steph and I frequently went together. It gets a little less abnormal — just a little — after I've been to the same place without her ten or twenty times.

After putting a few shirts and a pillbox and a tabletop fan into my shopping basket, I wondered whether any of Steph's things might still be in the store? So I looked through the shelves of kitchen stuff, but didn't see any of our plates. In the women's wear section, I didn't see any of her clothes on the rack, though there was a blouse in her size that she probably would've bought.

And what would I have done if I had seen Stephanie's pants or plates or shoes for sale at Goodwill? Probably just bawled, in the store and in the car on the way home. I wouldn't have bought them again; all that stuff was donated to charity because they weren't among Stephanie's favorites. Anything she really liked or frequently used is still at home, either in the Shrine or in the basement.

"Gotta always look very closely for holes and stains," Steph said, more than once, while we were shopping for clothes at Goodwill. Well, that blouse I thought she'd like? I took it off the rack, to check for holes and stains. It was light orange with brown stripes, and it passed inspection. It was $4.99, and I'm 85% sure she would've liked it, and I seriously considered buying that blouse for her. 

No, I didn't buy it. I'm a little nuts, but not that nuts. On the drive home, I chuckled at the thought of Steph telling me how ridiculous it was to even think of buying it. "Sweet," she would've said, "but really ridiculous."