A smash­ing-good yard sale

Maryland Independent - - Classified - Twit­ter: @right­meg

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.

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