A smashing-good yard sale
After many months, our yard sale is nigh. My husband and I set a June date as motivation to finally clear out the last of our catch-all places at home. Having spent nine years at our newspapers, I’m all about deadlines. That’s what we need, I thought: a clear goal. A timeframe.
Even with the date circled on a calendar, however, it took until Memorial Day weekend to actually begin de-cluttering. My husband and I have many hidey-holes used for storage (like the dreaded basement), but the worst offender was the Hulk Room: a spare bedroom that has earned its nickname for the lime-green and purple color palette.
The Hulk Room taunts me. I’m embarrassed every time I pass it, catching a glimpse of towering piles and half-open boxes with contents scattered about. Many things were dumped there on move-in day and haven’t been touched since. It’s a mess.
We tackled the basement months back, trying to whip that into some semblance of order. It’s not perfect, but it’s better. I’m happily using my craft table — and our success there has inspired us to keep going.
Now it’s time to smash Hulk.
With Oliver napping on Sunday, Spencer and I downed some serious coffee and got cracking. It’s mostly the contents of my childhood bedroom, so I knew I’d be fighting a wicked wave of nostalgia all day. As Spence helped me sort things into “keep” and “sell” piles, he was surprised by the heft of one small bag. “What the heck is in here?” he asked.
Though I hadn’t looked in years, I could instantly picture its contents. “Seashells,” I said. “Good ones.”
And there was so much more: an old backpack filled with book reports; a Minnie Mouse jar that once held all my Lip Smackers; my favorite pair of Airwalks, the beloved sneakers I begged for in middle school. My very first “cool” shoes.
My attachment to the sneakers — ones I haven’t worn in decades — is weird, I guess, but they make me happy. As I’ve devoted columns to my black-and-blue Airwalks in the past, I won’t bore you with those details. Let’s just say that, despite many moves and organizational attempts, the shoes remain. They will always remain. They’re a part of me.
I actually slipped them on (they fit!) as we broke into trash bags and bins. In all, the room is a mishmash of high school memorabilia, remnants from painting and flooring projects, baby gear that Oliver has outgrown, artwork we still haven’t hung . . . you know: really exciting stuff. But not necessarily easy stuff. I’m pretty obsessive about sorting my clothes, pulling out what I’ve decided looks ridiculous or doesn’t fit these days. While I have kept some special items (my wedding dress, for example), closet space is at a premium — and I don’t let much pile up. If I haven’t worn it recently, I let it go.
Memorabilia is . . . more challenging. It’s everything I don’t quite know what to do with, which is why I put off sorting the Hulk Room for so long. In addition to the shoes and other goodies, there are notes from childhood friends and jewelry from old boyfriends. Playbills and ticket stubs and boy band magazines. My first film camera (in trendy ‘90s neon, no less) and journals. An old wallet still holding a few bucks.
The rational part of my brain reads that list and thinks, um — yeah. No. Why in the world are you storing all that?
As a writer, I have an especially tough time parting with letters and cards — mine and, it seems, anyone else’s. I actually have a stranger’s stash of postcards (long story), and piecing together this woman’s life through “wish you were here” notes is fascinating. It’s hard to imagine letting them go — especially when I feel like they’ll just wind up in the garbage.
Maybe that’s why I enjoy yard sales. Sure, we could just truck everything to a donation center — and I do that, too. But actually seeing a smiling neighbor cart my former treasures off to a good home is more gratifying. I feel good imagining someone else enjoying a game or movie or book I once loved. It gives me closure.
So we’re ready. We’re doing this. I added more to the “sell” pile, and the room became emptier and tidier.
With my Airwalks, all things are possible.
Wearing my cool Airwalks circa 1998.