Everything must go!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

"Pay no attention to the sticker price! Make us an offer! The longer you stay, the less you pay! YOU WILL NOT LEAVE EMPTY HANDED!"

Here's what the email to my local friends and coworkers said:

What: Garage Sale to sell lots of Pam's Stuff
When: Saturday, May 23rd, starting at 9:00am (please oh please oh please let it be a nice day because, uncharacteristically, I have no back-up plan)
Where: XXX Xxxxxxxx Avenue.
Why: Because I've sold my house and quit my job and I'm leaving for a year long trip around the world at the end of May. My house is 850 square feet, my storage space is 75 square feet, and traveling is expensive. You do the math.
I spent most of my free time last week sorting through every box, shelf, closet, drawer, trunk and cupboard I've got. I was doing ok for the first few days because I started at the top of the house - the bedroom. That was pretty simple. Then the spare room and the living room - lots of books to sort, but I found that the faster you make the decision, the easier it is. In fact, the more stuff you mentally "let go" the easier it becomes.

Then it was the basement, and after a night or two it was like the entire history of my life had exploded down there. I kept opening boxes and unearthing essays from university, packed alongside my Brownie handbook and Lego, and a cookie tin of broken crayolas that smelled like childhood, and a crest from my elementary school and a box of multi-sided dice from my geekier days*, and boxes of cards and letters from forgotten friends, work colleagues and family. It was overwhelming.

Thankfully, friends came over Friday night to help me price stuff, kibutz, put up signs, bully me into having a "Free" box, drink beer, and generally help me get through it all. Then they came back at an unGodly hour Saturday morning to haul dusty junk out of the basement, set up tables they'd brought over, and get everything out into the yard.

The morning of the sale. (Not pictured: the Housewares Department, Tools and Hardware, Women's Clothing, Sporting Goods, or the Library on the Mezzanine Level)

Upon viewing the amount of stuff crammed into my back yard one friend said "How did you fit that all in your house?" The sad thing is that, post-sale, there's almost no difference in what the place looks like, which makes me wonder why I had all that stuff to begin with. It's cliche, but purging like this really is kind of liberating.

The sale was fun, though sometimes discouraging. There busy were times, and times when we sat around waiting. The best was when friends came by, and lots and lots of them did, so it ended up being part garage sale and part reunion and part good bye. One friend even brought our whole running group through while they were out on their long run!

I think lots of people spent more than they would have at an "ordinary" garage sale, and I want them all to know that I appreciate that very much. Some bought $15 worth of stuff and then didn't take the change from a twenty. Some carted away so much crap it almost didn't fit in their cars. Some came and bought a few things and then stuck around all afternoon to help clean up at the end.

It's also nice to think that lots of my stuff went to people I know and care about. Now when I look back I can think, "Oh yes, I remember that chop saw... C. has that now." Or, "It's nice that D. took the whole series of Bruce Alexander books." Or, "That was a great breadmaker**. I hope E. actually figures out how it works."

There was even a pizza delivery guy who stopped in while on a delivery and carted away a giant oil painting done by my grandmother. I feel bad about letting it go, but it was one of her earlier works and I have many, many others. Also, the guy who bought it (while someone's pizza was congealing on his front seat) pronounced it "wicked". Or maybe it was "awesome". Or possibly "sweeeeeet." Something flattering, anyways.

By mid-afternoon we'd managed to move all of the "big ticket" items, and pack up everything else. We took two loads of stuff to Value Village and a half-dozen Venetian blinds went to the ReStore. The day before I would have been crushed to have some of those things hauled away with nothing to show for it, but after 8 hours in the sun I just wanted it all GONE.

(And a word of advice for your next garage-sale: DO NOT sell your Dollar Store bag of assorted coin rollers in the garage sale, and then try to roll all the coins you accumulated at your garage sale.)

I also have to say really, really huge thanks to everyone who helped. Karen, Steve, Natalie, Dwayne, Jackie, Laurie, Marilyn, Adam... you guys made it easy and fun. It will be hard to say good bye.

And now it's done and I'm over one more hurdle. Next, I've got a few days to get everything that's left packed up and into a storage space. I've spent my last sunny Sunday in this house, and I can't believe how soon it's all going to be over.

Or, more importantly, how soon it's all going to start.

* I was going to write "geek days" as if they were behind me forever, but really, do you ever leave that behind? And what's the saving throw on a plate of bad sushi in Kyoto? I'd look if up, but I just sold my DM's Guide.

** Dear Mom: Yes, the bread maker. And the dustbuster. And the iron. Thank you for them all. They gave me faithful service, but it was time. Now they will buy me an extra few beers or entrance to a museum or a new guide book. They are the gifts that keep on giving.


Gillian said...

One more step Pam!! Yay!!

NĂ³mada 23 said...

Wow! Really really exciting reading about it and I am still very far from my own blast off day! Enjoy the last days!

Jo said...

Aww, it sounds bittersweet. Have a blast!!

Karen said...

Totally fun. I was very happy to see you ADD stuff to your free box after noon! I see you got an 'early bird' in one of the photos. :-)

Kim said...

Wish we had got there earlier... and, no, E has not figured out the breadmaker although I bugged him all day Sunday to make me bread...STILL waiting....

I laugh outloud everytime I come and visit your site Pam.Can't wait to see what you have to say about the actual travelling.

Unknown said...

Sad to have missed it. Stripping wallpaper pales by comparison! And I am sure the "freebie box" functioned as well as the "stuff all you want into a shopping bag..." idea!

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