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PEN&INKee^POSSIBILITIES: The benefits of being nosy

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By Kirsten Laskey

In one of my all-time favorite books, “A Patchwork Planet,” by Anne Tyler, the main character reminisces about his days as a juvenile delinquent. Barnaby describes the times when he and his friends would break into people’s houses and steal things.

But what was unusual, Barnaby says, was while his friends went straight to the liquor cabinet or snatched up valuable possessions, he picked up the unique knick-knacks, pored over photos and read through the mail.

He may have thought that was odd but I did not. I pretty much love to do the same thing.

Well, breaking and entering into homes and shifting through strangers’ personal belongings is not a good pastime but I can understand his intentions.

These personal items are not just random, meaningless pieces of junk; they are clues to how individuals live their lives. Everyone knows how their own life is going, but what about other people’s lives? How do they interpret the time they have on this earth?

A person’s home can reveal the answers to these questions.

As a result, I usually never pass up a person’s invitation to explore their home. Years ago, while living in a suburban Tennessee community, my mother and I would jump at the chance to participate in an open house.


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