May 23rd, 2005
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garage days

I sit here typing this looking at the last remnants of all of my stuff laid out on tables in the front yard. My fingers are cold, but alas I sold my fingerless gloves yesterday for 50 cents. It is a long weekend in Canada for those of you who are wondering why I am still here on a monday morning. To catch the last of the hoards of bargain hunters. They come by the dozens to pick over the strange assortment of wares, things I would not expect anyone to buy, yet buy they do. The cassette tape of Barry Manilow, the christmas mug, the book on cultural theory. There is a buyer for every item it seems. I have had one of the most interesting and unique weekends in recent memory. Anyone who is an aspiring writer need only have a yard sale to bring out a wide assortment of the most amazing characters you will ever meet. I ran for the sketchbook in hopes of capturing some of them. There were so many that I barely had time to write about them before they slipped from memory.
There was the seventy year old man with the suspenders who enjoyed collecting antique dolls, (of which I had none), and spoke of playing his old gibson guitar with great affection. The elderly couple who gave me detailed information on their blood sugar levels of the last week, including various bits of dietary information related to those blood sugar levels (what they ate), I listened enraptured for half an hour. There was Dan, an antique dealer from the city who quickly grabbed the red 50′s metal chair knowing a deal when he saw one, and later brought me a coffee to warm my freezing fingers. He wore an old men’s pin stripe suit jacket, and a wool hat from afganistan and spoke happily about life, various political conspiracies and the futility of North American consumption. (The irony of his chosen profession was a tad glaring.) And there was the man in the motorized scooter who came back no less than 10 times, (he looked remarkably like the character Tony Clifton). It broke my heart because I think he was just lonely and wanted someone to talk to.
It is a strange thing to watch people walk away with all of your stuff, things you’ve been looking at and carrying for years. I will admit that a couple of times a part of me wanted to run after people and take it back. I didn’t realize how attached I was to my things. Such a valuable exercise in letting go and realizing that I am not those things, and those things are not me. I had no idea how much stuff I had been hoarding until I saw it all laid out on the lawn. Rows and rows of things that I do not need. I was shocked. Makes one want to live a monastic existence.
The dark corners are cleared and the basement sparse. The house is much emptier, and I am a LOT lighter.
I turn the worn pages of Hemingway’s a Moveable Feast immersed in the chilly but deeply satisfying Parisian winter. Warm cafe’s, notebooks being scribbled in, wine being drunk. Narrow cobblestone streets,
I am interrupted by a grey haired man with a charming british accent asking, “How much for this?” as he holds up a worn picture frame. “Fifty cents” I respond looking up from my book. “And I’ll throw in the ceramic jewelery box for free.” His eyes light up a bit, turning around he goes back to look for more. I should be paying them for carting away these things and helping me shed the unnecessary weight.

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