I collect musical instruments. Over the last few years I've found things like mandolins, an archlute, a 'cello, a zither from Germany, a set of flutes from the Andes (courtesy of a travelling missionary), drums from India and Egypt, and more. I have some uncanny stories about how I've procured them, but none match the time when the girl with the two clarinets chanced my way.

It began when the Maryland summer doldrums led me to peruse my old CD liner notes. After a few minutes I was thinking, it would be great if I had a clarinet. Later that day a girl that I vaguely knew rang my doorbell. When I answered she said hello, and handed me two clarinets.

"I heard you collect instruments. Here, take these; I don't need them any more. Maybe you can take good care of them."

Anyway, my point. It later occurred to me that objects like these just might serve as vessels for bringing people together. Maybe I've been unconsciously collecting people this whole time.

A gift is given, a gift is received. The act of donation is a social one: the exchange itself is more important than the gift.

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