We need a new lawnmower and could also use some outdoor furniture. So yesterday, we went to tag sales. Fascinating, and at times, a little ghoulish walking through stranger’s homes, rifling through piles of a lifetime of belongings. Particularly weird are estate sales run by the off-spring. Standing by as strangers paw their parent’s belongings, I think they must hate us. Bargain-hunters inventorying beloved nick-nacks of their childhood cluttering every surface, sticky with years of grime. Assessing asses trying out dad’s favorite chair, haggling over the pyrex. The flotsam of the finished lives of someone they loved.
A red-flag to keep driving is the lemonade stand at the end of the drive. Surely a garage full of plastic toys and baby equipment follows. One driveway was full of divorce fall-out, the man practically giving away his remainders, apparently anxious to pack up his LandRover and be gone. I prefer the happier moving sale, often with the bonus of hearing about the planned adventure. The cheery couple with the stripped down house, laughing neighbors warming the still un-sold couch and chairs, are moving to Florida. We were too late for their lawn mower.
It’s the sales of dead parents stuff that sticks with me. Were people recently living in these claustrophobic homes? The musty rooms packed with old linens that should just be chucked. One house had a room of bizarre and unloved-looking dolls covering every inch of the floor – easily hundreds. Once upon a time, each of these creatures was brought home as precious, but I wager by Monday, a dumpster will be full of hundreds of staring glass eyes and rigid limbs in a macabre mass burial.
I came home and looked around my house. Imagining someone filling their arms with books, heaving iron skillets off the wall, fingering my scarves, my clutter, I made a decision. I don’t want to buried under a lot of shit no one really wants. I am cleaning and purging to make room for air and light. That’s really all I need. And a lawn mower.