At the end of the day…

Written on May 14, 2012

In four hours on Saturday, we made a couple hundred dollars, but more than that, we lightened our load significantly. Getting rid of that expired food made my day. Not having to reload it into the trailer made Sam’s day. Getting rid of a 200 pound safe that we’ll never use was also a highlight. Giving books and toys to kids who only had a quarter was the best part though. Having a yard sale isn’t just about getting rid of stuff. It’s an all inclusive party with old rusty, dusty, boxes of personal belongings as the guests of honor. It’s a very social event complete with characters from the backwoods and from the city.  It’s about seeing the spark in someone’s eyes when they find a tool or a book or a computer adapter that they’ve been looking for since 1989. It’s about being patient and nice when you don’t want to. It can be quite a hero’s journey with personal freedom as its final reward.

If there’s anything spiritual about yard sales, it is this: it is a perfect opportunity to give back to the community. When we came out here in 1991 we had everything we owned in a van. We teetered on the edge of homelessness for a while but soon found ourselves rubbing elbows with others who were also barely scraping by. We spent the next two or three years going to yard sales and thrift stores getting what we needed to live a “normal” life in California. Back then I was proud to say that I had furnished my whole house with yard sale and thrift store bargains. I was proud of that. Somewhere along the way I put my nose up in the air a little and decided that I needed new stuff.

Today I am back where I started 21 years ago. Yes, I still have quite a bit of my “good” stuff in storage. And I will probably furnish my next house with it. I have no desire to go to any more yard sales or to sell anything else at one. But I now have a deep appreciation for both sides of the yard sale industry. A buyer is looking for a bargain, sometimes because it gives them a thrill or satisfies a compulsion, but probably because they can’t afford the “good” stuff. A seller is looking to pass the treasure on to someone else so that they might feel a bit more free. It’s a good thing. I highly recommend doing it both ways at some point in your life. It’s a modern way of sharing—both our stuff and ourselves.

And I guess we do get connected through our stuff. I hope everyone who bought something from us in the past year will find pleasure in their yard sale finds. I hope all those who said they needed to have their own yard sales find the time and the courage to do it soon. Having yard sales is one of the most cleansing, liberating, fulfilling activities I can think of these days…other than getting in an RV and driving down a long, dusty highway…and that’s coming right up.

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