Labor of Yard Sale Management and Distribution
First and foremost, you must build up your supply of must-haves. This begins innocently enough.
You no longer live at home and can now decorate, design and ultimately be your own architect. If
you believe those brass sculptured cattails will fit nicely with your new found theme (the one you
just thought up) where it is imperative that there is some sort of wall sculpture, you buy them and
later spray paint them various colors over the years as your sense of style grows and changes.
When you pass through the intimacy of delving deeply into the purple phase – the one you go through after a loss such as a divorce-everything seems dark and you suddenly feel this obsession to be wrapped in pinot noir.
Thus, you paint your walls a deep purple. When you ask your dad what he thinks, he says it seems really dark in here. And he is right. Dads are always right. It is dark in here. So little by little, you begin to lighten up the room. You paint your cattails bright white. While one bright white pair of cattails contrasts nicely with the aged pinot noir, you realize you must have a work of art in order to really encapsulate this new idea of bringing some energy indoors.
You buy a painting of this serene but active little village in France. You are so proud because you just know you have found one of those Antique Roadshow finds, but it turns out that there are lots of Maurice Utrillo fakes out there, though you do not care because you like it and that is all that matters…
Before you know it, years go by and your sense of style grows and changes
many times over. Suddenly, you look around and all you see are collections
and collectibles and stuff that do nothing but remind you of someone you once
loved and you want it all gone. You want your warehouse surplus sold
because you are getting ready to turn 50 and you must-have more than
anything a clutter-free environment. There must not be any leftover
reminders of the hurt, the pain, the purples, the blues, the beiges…
Day by day, you start to work on cleaning out closets, cabinets and drawers. From there, you take down the cattails-currently spray-painted silvery chrome, the art, the collections, the collectibles and all the other stuff. You clean them. You decide there are some items you really can’t part with such as all your books that you must-have because you plan on reading them or plan on reading them again. What starts out as an entire bookcase of books dwindles to a couple of stacks of Harlequin-type paperbacks. Interestingly, it is the elderly gentleman who buys my stack of romance novels.
You locate tables and carry them outside. You ping and bang the doorframes. You bruise, cut and scrape different parts of your body trying to get these tables outside. You set up the tables and start digging through the plastic bags (those plastic bags that linens and bedspreads come in) you have stuffed with different lengths of various materials. You find red and blue-striped tablecloths (perfect for this Independence Weekend) that fit your tables and then you start hauling load after load of must-haves. You place them on the tables in attractive and creative ways attempting to display their once grandeur and splendor. You make signs and place them in key locations advertising your grand yard sale. You get your fanny belt that has the change you got when you took your Texas Hold ‘Em winnings to the Coinstar so you would have change.
Finally, the first day of the coolest yard sale ever arrives, and you sit, but not for long because there are hunters on the prey who believe that the early bird does get the worm. You wrote on your signs 7AM – 7PM. Some folks show up at 7AM on the dot. And for the next five hours, you do not sit; you barely get time to run to the bathroom before your next round of customers shows up looking for their must-haves. You are so excited. You think this is awesome:
“I will be done with this distribution by the end of the day.”
Then, just as suddenly as it all begins, it sort of stops. And so for the next forever of your life you wait for that next forever crowd of people.
Yard sale hunters still drop by from time to time, and then several hours go by before the next cat on the prowl decides to stop and see if you have his or her particular cat's meow.
You start realizing you must do other things for you can’t just sit outside forever. You must be up and doing things for the wait is driving you crazy.
You become superstitious for you begin to detect a pattern: every time you start doing something the pot boils so to speak but not for long causing you to repeat the process repeatedly: watched pot does not boil/a pot not watched boils…
On the last day, you have made it to the midway point in this really good book you are reading, you have weeded a couple sections of your flower garden, you have sit, sat, crossed legs one way, crossed legs other way and stood at least 100 million times, and now it is time to start hauling what once were must-haves back inside, getting tables back through nicked door frames, re-bruising the bruises you got from taking the tables outside in the first place.
Really Good Book!
You think about all the people who took time out of their lives in order to stop and find a must-have. For some of them, the must-have was not found in the objects, but in your company. More than a few people stopped by and stayed a long time, but did not buy anything or bought something for a quarter. These were mainly weary men who had lost their wives. Most of them needed to reminisce so you listened. They talked about how they would take their wives to yard sales and how well their wives could fare at finding the coolest things. How they still have boxes of their wives’ must-haves stored away in a building or a shed or a back room…
I met lots of retired teachers: Most of them looking for toys and books- I did not have- for their grandchildren.
I encountered tourists who absolutely loved the moonshine jugs-souvenirs they could take back to their big cities to show their fancy friends that they had visited the mountains and found these jugs leftover from the old-timey stills.
I connected with a woman struggling with whether she should end her marriage of 33 years who eventually bought the pretty little compact with the mirror.
I was introduced to a neighbor I had never met, a young man “fixin’ to git married.” He bought my big canister of colored marbles for his fiancé because she is using marbles and bamboo as part of the table centerpieces for the reception. It was only after I agreed to accept a wedding invitation did he leave.
One of my former student’s parents dropped by and I learned how this former student I had known with anger issues “had been called to the preaching” and now had two children of his own.
There was the guy who came back twice really interested in my beautiful Pink Queen Conch Shell.
I know I will never forget Nancy and Bill. How wonderful to see a mother and son out together doing something they both seemed to really enjoy.
My last customer showed up on Sunday right after church. Turns out he is a local antiques dealer. He spent less than $20, but will get his investment back three-fold.
In the end, I opened my fanny pack that I had worn for the last few days and counted my earnings.
“Hmmm…” I thought.
“Is that all?”
My sister triples that when she has a yard sale. I must ask her if she will donate a box or two of my nieces’ outgrown clothing the next time I decide I must-have more than anything a clutter-free environment.
I must not have any leftover reminders of the hurt, the pain, the purples, the blues, the beiges…