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Winter Wonderland?

    We got up early this Saturday morning to go to yard sales in hopes of making out like bandits. I know it's February, but on Martha's Vineyard, this is really the time to find a bargain. You've got year-rounders desperate to unload a lawnmower for 25 bucks. Heck, they're probably just having the garage sale so that they can engage you in conversation. It's a tad quiet here in February. Winter population for the whole island, all six towns, is not much more than 16,000. Once you start driving up-island, you may pass three or four cars this time of year.
    So we woke Danny up at 9 and let's just say he wasn't happy. What 19 year old wants to go to yard sales with a couple of flatulent 50 year olds on a Saturday morning? If I wasn't afraid my husband and I would die in a car fire on the road (never mind that the highest speed limit on the island is 45 mph and I rarely go over 30) I wouldn't make him come. But there's always the nagging feeling that the car will self-combust as we drive down Main Street and how the hell will we take care of an autistic adult from our beds at the Martha's Vineyard Hospital? That's a whole other story.
    So we forced the kid to go. At every house we'd ask "So Dan, do you want to go in or stay in the car?" Every time the reply was "Wanna stay in the car."
    Chris and I wandered through estate sales at strange houses, admiring the housekeeping and the handrails leading to the basements. "You can tell by all this country crap they were summer people," I'd say. "Yeah, look at the flip flops painted on that Chifferobe," my husband said.
    All the while I know for a fact that our little rented Cape Cod-style house can't fit one more freaking thing in it. So, I started thinking about how nice some of the stuff would look in past houses I've lived in. This is what winter life comes to on an island. Or, I'd think about how I might be able to drive a television cabinet with a TV in it across the Atlantic to Syracuse and to give it to one of my grown kids. One already has a hand-me-down television cabinet and the other one takes pride in the fact that she doesn't have a television at all.
    What I really wanted though was a Vitamix blender for $5. Much to my dismay, I only found a "mix-o-matic," whatever the hell that is, version for $15. I don't think so. I wasn't born yesterday. But I can't get past the fact that we picked up a snow cone maker for our margaritas for $5 last fall.
    We drove home lamenting our lack of purchasing power. I wondered why I hadn't grabbed that television cabinet no one needs and my husband went on and on about the guy we met who is throwing in the towel and moving back to North Carolina after living here a year and a half. He referred to the Vineyard population as "delusional" and said all the food here "tastes like crap." We couldn't think of an argument in defense and yet we couldn't completely agree with him. I looked at the ground and nodded, mostly in agreement with his food comment.
    We came home empty-handed, but not before using the yard sale money I had set aside to buy an order of fried oysters at Offshore Ale. We grabbed a bowl of peanuts and Danny ate them shell and all just like I showed him years ago. We were happy to be there, in a place we've loved since we moved here. No bikini top strings or presidents in sight.
    But, I have the fear of the North Carolina prophet rolling round my mind: Are we delusional? Is this really La-La Land? What the hell are we doing? Do these oysters really taste like crap and I can't see it because I am now delusional?
    Underneath all that, I have a certain amount of pride that we haven't left yet. We're still here. Oh, it's come up. I have cried what my friend Danielle back in Syracuse would call "crocodile tears" about going back to New York. I've thought about the vegan shakes at Strong Hearts and the barbecue at Dinosaur Barbecue, and God knows I'm a woman led by her stomach. It's like we're on the Oregon Trail or something. I ain't going back without a fight. Besides, those fried oysters are really, really good.


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