Before I was married, my annual garage sale was a social event.
On Friday night, I’d invite friends, relatives, and neighbors to a preview party, supply a ten foot sub-sandwich and libations, award door prizes (one year it was my vintage hat collection), and happily sell whatever combination of antiques, furniture, and one-of-a-kind items I could part with.
On Saturday, I’d open my garage to the public and on Sunday, whatever was left went to Goodwill. On Monday, I’d treat myself to something substantial like a new mountain bike.
As a single gal, one of my hobbies was garage-sailing. I was hard-pressed to walk away from a good sale empty-handed. For awhile, I was a “picker” for an antiques dealer near Chicago and later opened my own booth at a local antique mall, but somehow the pressure of having to come up with new and interesting items took all the fun out of serendipitously discovering them.
About a month before my husband-to-be and I combined households, I held the garage sale to end all garage sales. It was a perfect day in May. Sunny, yet cool and the tulips were just starting to bloom. The gathering crowd beyond the “starting line” flooded my driveway, jockeying for position.
Two gentlemen raced each other for the antique Lionel train set. Others ran to lamps, marbles, leather-covered editions of Robinson Crusoe and The Three Musketeers. (The books killed me, but… I had to let go.)
All the slightly tattered quilts I’d bought over the years for quilted Teddy Bears when they were the craze (but didn’t have the heart to actually cut into) went like hotcakes. My husband still doesn’t understand the purpose of a doily, but loves to tell everyone I sold hundreds of them (a bit exaggerated).
In fact, he was so proud of me, he asked me to marry him the very next day.
Here’s my theory: The garage sale was a test to see if I could get rid of enough stuff to make room for him. I guess I passed… (And that story, my friends, is… well, another story.)
Since we’ve been married (seventeen years and counting), we’ve had a few more sales. With each sale, the preparation loses some luster. This time around… I keep hearing the words of a woman I met at a screenwriting conference describing how liberated she felt when she and her husband pulled a dumpster into their driveway and pitched all their excess stuff.
I would like to state for the record I am not a hoarder (my friends can attest–they come inside my home), but—without deep psychoanalysis— I admit I might have hoarding tendencies. Plus, now I have a husband and I really am trying to simplify.
Tomorrow we’ll enter the belly of the beast with Part II.