Last week, looking around on Craigslist for hockey stuff, I found this ad:
CCM Hockey Skates, size 12 – $10 (Urbana, MD)
One pair of old but still good condition CCM hockey skates. Leather needs some oil but is not cracked or stiff. Size 12.
Ten bucks for CCM hockey skates is a great deal, and it’s nearly impossible to find used skates in sizes this large. I jumped on it, swapped a few emails back and forth with the seller, and we made plans to exchange last Monday after work.
The gravel driveway is several hundred yards long. When I park I’m surprised to see a house that looks completely different from all the others in this neighborhood: a beautiful, old, wooden cottage with an expansive wrap around deck, multiple barns in sight, all overlooking acres and acres of untouched forest. I knock on the door and an old man taller than me (I’m 6’2″) with pure white hair comes to the door.
“Andrew? Come in, come in!”
Craigslist interactions generally creep me out, but I go inside. He seems harmless.
His house smells like an older person’s house, and there are all kinds of old memorabilia items lining the walls.
I give him the ten dollar bill and he hands me the skates. I foolishly almost nick myself holding them with the blade against my skin. Before I can turn for the door, he begins talking again.
Driving home, I felt less and less like I’d been ripped off and more like I was the owner of a small part of this old man’s soul. I just kept imagining him skating on that frozen canal as a young man, then holding onto these skates for half a century, remembering that feeling he had all those years ago each time he picked them up and considered finally getting rid of them. Something about him letting go of these made me feel really sad, but also really lucky. Maybe because when I look at my first hockey stick or pictures of me on my old longboard I remember that feeling — that pure feeling — and how difficult it can be to let go of those old artifacts that remind you.