Oh, my gosh! What a good book this was!…And this one…! I remember reading this during junior year of college…And this novel was the first I read of this author…! And so on it went, as I sorted books to sell at a recent yard sale two weekends back, rediscovering parts of my past selves, holding back strong emotions as I recalled how some of what I have read in the last 15 years helped get me through the difficult bits that come up in life, wishing I could converse directly with certain authors, tell them that they saved my life on several occasions, and the various ways that this holds true.
Who knew that preparing for a yard sale could be so internally heavy? Could make you feel like you were putting yourself on display, prone to absolute vulnerability? I don’t think I did. Not until preparing for this one, and then later, splaying my goods over the grass of the common area across from my home did I recognize the feeling that had come over me: such that I was hovering out of body, looking down at a less modest version of myself, legs wide open. I had to look away, and might even have folded my arms across my chest, warding off that naked feeling.
I’m dramatizing, but anyone paying real attention to all that I was trying to shed like old skin, would have learned or at least gleaned a few things about me. Even if it was all the old me’s. Her and her and her…well, they weren’t bad chicks, just they made some mistakes. Moreover, they are not in life where this gal is now.
The night before the yard sale, while in preparations — in the 10 o’clock hour actually — after crying for the third time over my daughter’s older clothing from infancy on up to the 3T sizes that she has recently discarded (Was she really so tiny?), I resolved that I was trying to do a very good thing, as I don’t think that I am strong enough to keep stumbling over her life contained in boxes any longer, making that reason enough to keep digging my heels into the heinous task. It’s worse in some ways when it comes to her former belongings than it is with my own, looking over remnants of my literary life. The visual earmarks of what time has already passed in her early existence, and how I was too naive to see that it would go so quickly shatters me.
If you ask me, yard sales are the fire drills of moving. Even in their usefulness, they are nearly just as much work and anxiety.
Who knew that the stuff you accumulate in life, but don’t necessarily need, is in some ways the actual stuff of life? The stuff that your soul cries out for, even as your consciousness gripes about the clutter? It certainly did not occur to me the first time I did a yard sale with my friend Ivanna last summer.
So, when my husband and I found ourselves schlepping probably ninety percent of what we extracted from our home, back in after five hours, I made a verbal pact for the both of us: “Let’s not ever do this to ourselves again!” The this being a commitment to be more conscious of clutter when it happens in order to eradicate it more often, in smaller doses, as well as making sure to not buy things that we don’t really need. Though, we are in less danger of the latter after convincing ourselves a year or more ago to cease particular purchases (books, sadly; CD’s; DVD’s, etc).
Feeling stuck with all this stuff lining our main hallway, and part of our living room, I’m bummed. And desperate for someone to take it all off our hands. Ivanna and I are scheming to do a yard sale together next month, so having something to incorporate is good. But with as much around, I’m deliriously fantasizing about a home invader. One that would be surprised to find the lady of the house giddily handing things over, a crazy smile a là Black Hole Sun by Soundgarden adorning her face.
Since that won’t happen, we’ve now tasked ourselves with tapping into secondhand stores, Craigslist, and fellow co-workers for release and salvation from ourselves.
This past Friday proved productive on that front, as we woke early to sell the best of my daughter’s outgrown fashions to our local spot for the youth thrift store, Once Upon A Child. Since we had just learned of its existence from a neighbor following the yard sale fail of two Saturdays ago, I called a few days prior to see if there were guidelines and expectations. The woman I spoke with was polite and helpful, but — yes! rules galore! Anxiety kicked in as I pictured a rigid retail environment fully controlled by a toddler textiles Nazi.
The two rules that took up my head space the most were: only one box of clothing permitted to sell to them per day; and they don’t buy past 11 a.m. The store opens at 10 a.m.
Naturally, my husband saw this as a chance to push the envelope. So, we brought two boxes of clothing and two boxes of toys with us to sell. And we didn’t leave the house until 10:15. Apparently, I don’t enjoy ruffling feathers. Why else would I be worried, right? Also, I tend to expect the worst. Maybe I should stop giving so much of life an automatic bad rap in my head.
Anyhow, I guess we hit on a lucky day, as there weren’t legions of other parents standing in a Depression Era-esque line out the door. Nor did any of the employees balk at our handful of cardboard containers. It was an overall pleasant experience. And even though the manager did not buy all that we brought with us, it ended up being an almost fair exchange, as all we had to pay for the items we choose for our daughter from what was out on the floor was $1.08. I’ll be back again, Once Upon A Child. You’ve made my list of Secondhand Stores That I Am Happy to Visit.
Following lunch, my husband hauled several more boxes to the nearest Goodwill, including some of my beloved past reading adventures, naturally. But I better not get started back on that. I am still dealing with inner conflict: time to let go of all that has been read in order to move on with life and all that is ahead to read versus not wanting to let go because those books were meshed in with my life. (Honestly, what will probably happen is that as I find new fabulous fiction and other general genre gorgeousness, I’ll end up rebuilding my army of books…which carries definite plausibility.)
Some things still need new homes and owners, but I felt enough relief over the progress attained just with that day that not only did I rest easier that night, but I could swear that our house did, too. Even so, the memory of the amount of effort that we both put into the yard sale and then the follow-up clean out left us as fatigued as when our daughter was first born and will not fade easily or soon.