mental and physical housecleaning

And just like that, bits and pieces of the past 25 years of my life have been cleared away. Today we had an “Everything Is Free Garage Sale.” We went through every room of the house, collected up stuff that we really didn’t need, and gave it all away. I advertised the event in a couple local newspapers and on Craigslist.

It was scheduled to go from 8am to noon. But by the time I looked outside at 7am, there were already people arriving. Not seeing any free stuff, they went next door where our neighbors were having – by total coincidence – a more traditional yard sale.

By 7:30am, there was a line already forming at the edge of our driveway. The early birds organized themselves into a queue, anxiously waiting for us to bring stuff out for them to pounce on.

By 7:55am, the crowd had grown to between 20 and 30 people, all still lined up. Cars were double parked all over the cul-de-sac, creating total gridlock and blocking in our neighbor who needed to get out of his driveway to go make his Saturday morning tennis game.

But I didn’t want things to start until the lemonade stand was open. You see, a former coworker of mine heard about the event and asked if they could hold a lemonade stand, with the proceeds going to an anti-domestic violence charity. Sounded good to me! She and her kids live at the end of a mile long road, so her kids have never done a lemonade stand before, and they’d been wanting to. Perfect!

Finally, at 8am, we carried the tables of stuff out to the driveway from the garage and then arrayed the other stuff on the lawn, sidewalk, etc. A starting pistol would’ve been appropriate, because once I said it was OK for them to come get stuff, it was like a school of piranhas on a dead bird.

By 8:30am, probably 90% of the stuff had already been hauled off. People were taking it by the armload. They didn’t even look at what they were taking, but just scooping up the free stuff bushel by bushel. Clothes that may not fit. DVDs they’ll probably never watch. Speaker cable they may never use.

Once I was sure nobody was going to break down the front door and start taking the rest of our belongings, I took another pass through the whole house. I carried several more armloads of stuff up to the “sale” and most of the new stuff went just as quickly.

By 9am, the crowd was gone, and I sat down finally. By 10am, the lemonade stand was sold out of lemonade, donuts, and coffee, so they packed up and went home. By 11am, our piles of junk had been reduced to the point we just added them to the yard sale next door, and I declared our sale over.

Beth and I both gave away all our vinyl albums, and since we didn’t have any records anymore, I gave away my record player. I gave away every cassette tape I had except those from either my bands or my friends’ bands. I gave away all the paperback books and CDs that I’d been saving to trade away on and Some of those paperback books and vinyl records I’ve had since the 1980s, so it was quite the purge. But now every room in the house has more room, and it seems actually conceivable that we could downsize into a townhome or move everything into storage and go vagabonding in Europe, Australia, or India. It’s a good feeling.

Categorized as Drivel


  1. I’ve read Zen Habits in the past. I haven’t been reading it lately because it began to seem like more clutter–oh no, another thing I have to do, simplify my life!

    I did keep 2 albums, because 1 is signed by an old boyfriend and another was given to me by my brother. I don’t know if the other ones even played. I hope this stuff doesn’t end up in the landfill. I hope people get good use out of what they took home.

    There was a lot of gardening stuff I hauled out late that people would have taken if I had put it out there early. Now the shelves in our garage look sort of empty.

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