Back when I lived in Washington, DC (many moons ago), I used to go yard sailing. I meandered most weekends through numerous neighborhoods getting a feel of new spaces. I was excited to see these beautiful homes and the so-called junk they were getting rid of. I had never gone to yard sales growing up. No one held those in the South Bronx. It was such a delight to see artwork, pots, shoes and furniture in ostensibly good condition being sold for pennies.
My very first wok, was one that I bought for a dollar at a yard sale. I had never cooked food in a wok before that. I actually had rarely ever cooked before that moment. However, I wanted that shiny big red wok for a dollar. It was awesome and mine. I also remember that I bought a yellow pot for a dollar that I still have till this day. I heat up my son’s soups in that cute little yellow pot that came into my life as I was starting to learn about other people’s lives. That there was the fun part of going to yard sails. I got to find jewels and make up backstories for my new belongings. You can’t really do that with items you purchase new in a store. They come devoid of a story. No history. And I was starting to live a new life on my own, years ago in DC, I was really into buying other people’s stuff.
Fast forward a decade or so, and it was actually hard to go yard sailing in the suburbs of New York and then the hills of San Francisco. There is no point to doing yard sails in San Francisco. First off, too many hills and its hard to walk up to them. Second, people just tend to put a sign that says “free” on items that they then leave on the street. Those items usually are picked up by someone within five to ten minutes. Now fast forward a few years to my time here in Los Angeles. I came across a yard sale this very weekend where I found an awesome NY Botanical Garden poster from the 1940s. It was just $15. I hung it up immediately in my new home and started wondering why and how this poster from New York made its way to Los Angeles. Did it go through my own struggle and path?
This past weekend, I took my adventure in yard sales even further. I went to the Pasadena Rose Bowl Flea Market. I had high expectations as to what I could find and what stories would be attached to the items.
I came across old desks that made me remember what it was like to be a kid in school many years ago. Life and society have changed so dramatically. Now kids have shared desks in open spaces or high tech tables that have outlets for all their iPads. I showed my son a old desk chair that he just looked at with intense puzzlement.
There were all sorts of drums all around that made me wonder for a second what type of music was played on them and where had the music gone?
Now, while I love buying old furniture and other such items, I don’t think I myself would be able to hold a yard sale. I don’t see myself parting with my items in such a public way. I would wonder how they would fit in to their new space and whether their new family would treat them with respect. I just can’t part with my items in such a way. For now, they are stuck with me.