“Auction sales are kind of a sad time…”

I was reading Armin Wiebe’s latest book Grandmother, Laughing when I came across this part where the character Tien says, “Auction sales are a kind of a sad time. Pieces of people are being sold to the highest bidders, bidders who won’t know the stories those things could tell.”

It stabbed me in the heart a bit, calling to mind the strange day when my dad hosted an auction sale as he retired from dairy farming.

I knew this was a first step in getting rid of the farm entirely, and it didn’t seem real. Until my father carefully laid out all of the machinery he had collected over the years. Until a bizarre flood of cars lined the gravel road I knew so well. Until a crowd of strangers amassed on the lawn looking to rip it all to shreds. Some were also there for support. I think they must have known what it was like.

I felt a strange kind of grief that day. No one had died. No one was sick. But a piece of us was gone. Many pieces. Our material past was yanked out from under us.

I wandered the edges of the crowd, taking it all in from afar, snapping pictures. Processing. Grinning hugely whenever I’d meet up with someone I knew. But inside my heart was in pain.

At this point, Andrew and I had been married for a year, and I had established a new home with him. Maybe it was good to have this step to say goodbye to the place where I’d spent my entire childhood.

I haven’t been to an auction since… but I kind of want to go. Just to experience it in a less personal way, if possible. Or are auction sales always personal?

I wonder.