More than We Bargained for at Our Garage Sale

I love that our house seems a little bit bigger this morning because there aren’t sacks of books, old curtain rods, and other household castoffs taking up floor space around the edges of the hall, garage and bedroom. That’s where most of the stuff that we had cleaned out of the kids’ rooms last summer ended up. But thanks to yesterday’s garage sale, the house is less cluttered and all that’s left in the corners is a year’s worth of dust.

For stuff that is too random and not worth the hassle of describing and posting it on Craig’s List, an old-school garage sale is still a great way to recycle Barbies and Polly Pockets. I’m quite sure our daughter won’t be taking those with her when she goes away to college in the fall.

And even though our proceeds from the sale are only enough to buy one college textbook for her, the garage sale had some unexpected benefits.

We were one of six houses on our block that participated in the garage sale. Our neighbor had set the date and then got the word out along the street. So after the 8 a.m. rush of early-bird shoppers had come and gone, what did all of us do instead of staring at our tables of baskets, picture frames, and books and getting depressed thinking about all the stuff we would have to pack up and take to Goodwill?

We went over and talked to one another. And it was the best thing about the day.

There is one neighbor who had lived on the street for at least five years because I remember watching the mom come and go when she was pregnant. That child is now in kindergarten. And it was just at yesterday’s garage sale that I introduced myself and now know their names, ages, and where they go to school.

We met and had a chance to chat with the family who is going to be moving into the house next to us. Steve had a long conversation with an older gentleman who he met after years of passing walking his dog. I got to hear about the successes of our next door neighbor’s children; for years now we’ve done little more than wave as we fly past one another at 7:50 each morning.

We’ve lived in our house 15 years, yet we’re still learning the names of neighbors who’ve lived on the street even longer than we have. I don’t think we’re all that uncommon; everybody is so busy and focused on what they need to get done in the next hour, that no one takes the time to reach out to their neighbors.

I know for sure, that after Saturday’s garage sale, my wave as we pass won’t just be cursory, it will be a genuine “I’m glad to see you,” because I have a renewed connection with these neighbors.

I don’t know if there will be another garage sale on the block next spring. But now that the ice has been broken, I’m not going to wait 12 more months before I talk to my neighbors to find out.



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