Thursday, September 01, 2005

A year in the yards of clutter and the driveways of divestment

One year ago this week I began keeping this on line journal of what I encountered in my weekly habitual visits to yard sales in Atlanta neighborhoods. Before I began writing I saw my activity as a waste up time, gas and effort. As stated in my heading I seldom buy any thing at these sales. This is not to say I am not entertained by my visitations to these sites of divestment. I have laughed, cried, shuddered, been appalled, insulted and amazed at the stuff I have seen. I have discovered secrets, viewed the debris of people’s passing passions and saw evidence of lives in transition. I examined the fragments of lives well lived and lives misdirected. Perhaps I have found all people have so many sales in their lives. I will even be so bold to say that men and women have seven sales in their lives.

The Seven Yard Sales of Man

The first is that of Youth. The ex-student thrust into the working world needing cash and selling their college textbooks and the meaningful music of their young days. Their yards are filled with trifles they once though important gag gifts and trendy clothing.

The Lovers combine their households and sell the redundant clutter. The inferior small appliances owned by the man, the Taiwanese hand tools of the woman. But the woman dominates the sale forcing the divestment of ugly artwork, men’s magazines and overtly masculine items of home d├ęcor.

The New Parents make space for the crying and wailing infant and rid their homes of all things unhealthy old and soiled. Space is needed and free time and leisure have vanished. Exercise equipment, dusty books are put up for sale. The initial materials of childcare and maternity are sold. Books on pregnancy, baby monitors, cribs and strollers litter the yard.

The Upwardly Mobile household moves to a grander habitation leaving behind the basic furnishing that speak of a lower station. Books on topics political, thick tomes from graduate studios and self help manuals that are no longer needed line the driveway.

The Family with children selling donuts and lemonade amid a wide yard of collected clutter. Tarps filled with plastic toys no longer needed, the broken action figure, the doll with missing shoes sit alongside the clothing of adults that are now too tight around the waist. All this mixed with the jetsam of hobbies forgotten, music no longer listened to and books unread.

The Empty Nest where the children have moved on and life is simplified. Cupboards are emptied of multitudes of small appliances. Electronics that old hands and minds could not seem to master, gag gifts given at milestone birthday parties are scattered about the porch mixed in with the clutter cleaned out of an old desk. Trophies of jobs no longer worked at and travels nearly forgotten are piled together and pillaged by rude early bird shoppers.

The Estate, the final sale where the owner is no more and the clutter is all that remains. The wake is held, the body interned and the sum total of what one man or one woman have accrued as they ventured through this mortal coil makes its final journey. It is watched over by professionals and picked at by scavengers. Some hope to profit and gain by their finds. But others may take one item home, place it on a mantle and admire it till it is forgotten and the cycle continues.

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