At this time of year, garage-sale signs are everywhere on Long Island.
After I begged and cajoled, my husband agreed to partake in this suburban ritual. I needed Fred's participation -- to be honest, I needed his brawn -- to carry up all sorts of bulky items gathering dust in our basement. Huffing and puffing, we carried up golf clubs, a chest of drawers, boxes of stemware, a fake topiary Christmas tree and a telescope, among other things.
We lined them up along the sidewalk and front lawn of our North Bellmore home on a Saturday earlier this month. We got a good showing of visitors and packed up around 5 p.m., having sold about three-fourths of what we put out. The rest we took to the Goodwill.
Despite our success, the experience left me with an unexpected emotion: seller's remorse.
I was so exhausted that day, that in midafternoon, I ducked out for a catnap. While I slept, Fred sold two 6-inch, yellow angels that two friends gave me years ago after one of our sons died of a heart problem at age 25. I can still recall the feel and look of the bright yellow angels. They were made of resin, hard and with irregular folds in their gowns. Each held up a star to heaven. The angels had been in storage for years, but now I had mixed feelings about selling them.
"How much did you let them go for?" I asked Fred.
"Four dollars," he said. "I must tell you, the woman who bought them said they just caught her eye as she was walking away and said they were beautiful. I told her they are bereavement angels, and she was so happy to get them."
Ah! I felt an emptiness come over me. Maybe I shouldn't have put them out. Maybe I could have found a place for them. Maybe I should have given them to other friends from the bereavement groups.
More seller's remorse: I also realized that my Beatles "Sgt. Pepper's" CD was gone. In my rush to sell CDs we no longer listened to, I must have accidentally included that one in the pile. (Luckily, I did withhold a favorite Dean Martin CD.)
Now I'm imagining all my pretty things in strangers' houses, scattered far and wide, and visitors coming to their homes, admiring my angels and various bric-a-brac, and saying, "Hey, where'd you get those?"
I'm sharing the love and energy I found in those gifts and items, which helped me recover from that which I can't change.
All of the things sold were pieces of my life, and as I thought about them, I couldn't stop humming Dino's "Memories Are Made of This." I also realized that there are worse losses in life than the stuff I could no longer drag on life's journey. We all want to hold on to pieces of our past, but there's a point when managing it becomes overwhelming and insurmountable. Perhaps the best memories are those in the heart.
In the end, with my hubby's blessing, I used the yard-sale proceeds to buy myself a beautiful gold bracelet I'd admired in the jewelry store -- a way to convert past possessions into something meaningful for the future.
Reader Gloria Schramm lives in North Bellmore.