Take it! Take Another Little Piece...

"Take it! Take another little piece of my heart now, Baby..." That line, sung in Janis Joplin's rasping, soulful screech popped into my head today as I was tallying purchases. My friend Sri is having a moving sale. She and her husband Jamie have to move houses-hopefully not away from Jakarta, but that depends on where Jamie gets a new job.

Let me begin by saying that contrary to what you may think upon entering my house, or snooping in my closets, I am not a big shopper. I do not enjoy mall shopping and am quickly overwhelmed by department stores and rack-upon-rack, floor-upon-floor, shelf-upon-shelf of choices. That being the case, I love buying treasures on holiday, especially handicrafts from their creators. And, I love, love my buying friend's castoffs.

Several of us met a Sri's the morning of her moving sale. The music was playing, coffee was brewing, and the table was laid with tasty cakes and treats. We jibber-jabbered for a while, while each of us sneaked side-long glances at the sale items. The furniture for sale had been left in place, but the smaller pieces were artfully arranged in a mini-shop along one side of Sri's living area.

In mass, at some unnamed signal, we girls rose to the occasion. We managed to paste our personalized "SOLD" stickers on much of Sri's "for sale" items even though they were not great "bargains." In some cases, as with the Lombok serving dishes we divvied up, we could have purchased them new for the same price. Sri explained away our purchases saying maybe it was easier to buy hers because she had already taken the time to weed through all the not-so-great serving dishes in the shop and hand-selected the best of the best.

Sri is correct: Shops stuffed with dishes, handicrafts, or fabrics, like extensive menus, can be overwhelming. It is easier to make a decision when you have limited choices-especially when a friend with exemplary taste and an artistic eye has limited the selection. (In restaurants we, meaning me and most everyone we dine with, often let Curtis do the selecting for us because big menus don't daunt him.) With menus, I'm happy to leave the selection to Curtis; when it comes to Indonesian anything, I'm delighted to leave the selecting to Sri. Not only does she know what everything is and what it is used for, she also has a flair for color and design.

However, today, while mentally screeching away with Janis, I realized there is much more to this Friend-to-Friend selling than Sri's explanation suggests. Everything that has gone into making an artist is woven into anything he or she creates. So, when I purchase a piece of art or handicraft from an artisan, I am in essence buying a "little piece" of that artist's heart. Just as anyone who buys one of my books is buying a little piece of me.

Sri talked about how happy she was to have us, her friends, buy her treasures. Not because she wanted the money, or because she wanted the stuff gone. It was because she didn't really want to be selling anything at all. Sri is a collector. She remembers each place she bought something, who she was with when she bought it, and who she bought it from. And many of her treasures, including those she is selling, she bought from other friends. So it is not as much as moving sale as a Friend-to-Friend hand off. An adoption service. She said she didn't mind selling her treasures to her friends because she knows they are going to good homes, to live with people she loves.

And I love buying things my friends have bought. Yes, I love, love, love that Sri weeded through the piles and stacks and shelves to ferret out the loveliest, most original, and well made, interesting items and I don't have to. But more, I love buying from my friends, because when I take those treasures home, I am taking a "little piece" of my friend's heart, too!