Memories for Free

>> Monday, July 30, 2007


I guess I’m having a Ghost World moment.

We had a garage sale Saturday, and it didn’t go as I’d hoped. Today I’m just sad and drained. We worked really hard on a hot day to fix and clean everything. I went through the girls’ old clothes and hung their pretty dresses on hangers. I accepted that the toys in the garage were unnecessary and put them out for sale. We polished Elizabeth’s first toddler bed and the girls’ crib. Everything was beautiful.

We sold a few things, but very few of the girls’ items. In the end, I practically gave the toddler bed away which was one of the hardest items to give up. As Michael said, “I read a lot of stories to Elizabeth in that bed.” I feel like a dirty, desperate whore selling it for a mere $20. (To any whores who might be reading, please forgive my exaggeration, but I’m on my period and, well, you know how it is...)

I keep telling myself that it’s all “good karma” -- that the woman who bought it for her little girl will have many good memories in it, too. But I feel like I undersold myself, my memories, and my life. Ugh.

I just feel dirty.

For the girl’s dresses, I set a price of $1-2, $1 for their little shoes, and $1 for miscellaneous clothes. People looked at me funny when I said $2 for the dresses and I caved and said $1 and they still wouldn’t buy them. I felt like digging out pictures of our girls in those dresses. Look -- there they are on Easter; playing at the park; laughing in our living room. See how well those dresses compliment their hair, their smiles? See how beautiful they are? How can you ask me for less?

When I think about it, anything related to the girls was hard to sell -- even the dirtiest shoe or most unused toy. I’m sad today because all of this is dawning on me just now. Saturday I was all grown up; all rationale and making money. Today I am horribly, painfully human and hating everyone who tried to underpay me.

But of course I’m making too much of this. I’m being overly sentimental about items that will one day go up in flames when the world explodes, or become lost in a block of endless ice when the Earth slowly enters the giant freeze. All we ever have is this one moment and each day I try to appreciate it more and more.

(Blah, blah, blah...)

In the end, I’d rather give the girls’ stuff away then face a potential buyer’s rejection of it. I know this is all in my head, and that these objects are only as meaningful as I make them. But I will feel better about myself if I give them way. I will feel magnanimous, bestowing such great gifts to needy people. Better that than dicker and negotiate on their value, which is infinite to me.

There’s a great scene in Ghost World when Enid (the main character) is selling a few of her clothes. A woman asks how much for a dress and she says something ridiculous like $1000. At first I thought she was being a pain in the ass, but I totally get it, now.

These things that we collect are an expression/extension of ourselves in a way. Every time we go through a closet, or open an old box in the garage, a memory is ignited -- our past restored briefly before being packed away again. Our stuff ties us to our history and puts our lives into perspective. It has value.

Like these signs the girls created for the garage sale. My mom showed the girls how to make them on Friday night. As we priced our wares in the driveway, the girls marched through the front door carrying these signs like striking union members. We want a garage sale! When do we want it? Now! They drew balloons on them; coo-koo birds; colored in the letters. I could never sell these little signs. If I tried to sell them for $20 and someone scowled at me and said $2, my first instinct would be to give them a big F-you.

But I could give the signs away -- to someone who needed them; appreciated them.

There's a new stack of quarters on the breadbox -- Elizabeth's profit from the garage sale. It's only two dollars worth, but it's value is rising so quickly that I don’t know if I can allow her to spend her hard-earned cash. It was her idea to sell her stories at the garage sale -- give her a quarter and she’ll tell you a story. (Actually, she wanted to sell her stories for anywhere between a “penny” and “100 dollars”, and at one point she thought she had to pay you to hear the story. But we straightened her out in the ways of capitalism.) I may have to put these quarters in a safe place and give her two of my own dollars to spend. The quarters, now, are priceless.

Yes, I know I’m a little batty.

There may come a day in the future when I’m longer attached to material things like dirty shoes, hand-made signs, and stacks of quarters. But not today. Today I am, quite firmly, attached. The next time we have a garage sale, I’m going to sell old furniture, kitchen appliances and computer stuff -- all the stuff I don’t care about.

And I’ll give the world my most valued possessions, my memories, for free.

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P.S. If you haven’t yet, watch the Ghost World trailer. I just did and I'm smiling.




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