EVERYTHING MUST GO
by Elizabeth Mosier
“Here’s what you do,” a friend said to my husband, eyeing the dreck on our front porch, residuals from a previous sale: the single chair, incomplete set of plates, fancy dolls our daughters never played with, battered sleigh they had outgrown. “You go to the bank. You get $200.00 cash. You pay someone a hundred bucks to haul this shit away. You give your wife the other $100.00 and tell her it was a huge success. Nobody wants stuff you don’t want.”
How I wish my husband had done it, though I’d insisted on the sale.
When we’d moved to the suburbs twenty years before, we’d paid for a vacation by selling “antiques” we’d spent years collecting in Germantown. These things filled our imagined future, but didn’t fit in our new house. Nor did the wedding crystal I’d been carrying from the basement when I accidentally let go. I’d heard that delicate world—ring holders and sherry glasses—shatter, and put the box out at the curb without even looking inside.
We’ve emptied four houses now—my childhood home and my husband’s, our first apartment and my in-laws’ last—and are weary of clutter’s delusions: that there will be another day for the dot matrix printer, the blouses that need ironing, the hand tools rusting in the shed. When something comes in, something must go. Still, we want our stuff to count.
My parents let me hold a yard sale once, the summer I was twelve. As I disposed of beloved stuffed animals and my prized rainbow collection of Revlon eye shadow, I didn’t understand why they didn’t intervene. Now I do.
To be that young again, to want for nothing, to let life pass lightly through your hands. What remains is fossil, an impression, the taphonomy of ruin.
Image credit: Yard Sale Dan on Flickr