Whenever my children come to visit, Sunday morning means a trip to the flea market. And as they gleefully pile into their cars for the 2-mile trip, I stand on the porch, loudly repeating the usual warning, “Remember, you can’t leave anything here. You’ve got to take it back with you.”
And then, a few hours later when they return with their “bargains” I remind them, they can’t leave the stuff at my house. I may even point out that it’s a little tricky to load a 9 by 12 (stained and ugly) carpet into the overhead on a trip to Seattle.
It’s going to end up in our room next to the garage along with the other junk that has accumulated over the years. We can put it next to the mangy mounted, one-eyed deer head.
That room, a veritable “junk magnet” is full of broken promises. In years gone by there were plans to get a couple of tables at the flea market and sell that which started out there in the first place. We even flirted with a tag sale on our lawn.
Once when I worked at the Reformer we had an employee tag sale in the parking lot. All we did was buy each other’s junk and most went home with the same amount they had arrived with a few hours earlier. I bought a whole set of dishes that I didn’t need. The seller was asking $5. You can’t afford not to buy a set of dishes at that price. She just wanted to get rid of it.
I do feel there should be a statute of limitations on how long certain things of absolutely no value or purpose should be retained. We are closing in on having lived here for 20 years and there’s useless stuff that we hauled up here in an expensive moving van from Connecticut. We were always going to “go through it” all and never did.
What prompted my latest harangue against the ever-growing annoyance is that two dear friends have recently had to clear out their family homesteads in preparation for selling. Their tales are frightening.
They tried tag sales and found their junk was indeed that and no one really wanted it. They tried some charitable organizations and were embarrassed to find their stuff was too far gone even for the homeless. They talk about finding old love letters and quickly burning them. They despair over what to do with mismatched glassware, dishes, pots and pans, bundles of pillow cases, three-legged chairs and cracked china.
We have stuff that’s been handed down for generations. Take for instance big black cast-iron frying pans: we’ve got them. But we don’t cook with them because we’re fond of the non-stick stuff. When I suggested we take them to the dump, my husband was horrified. “They belonged to our great grandparents!” he protested. “But they take up space, collect dirt and I prefer my cookware Teflon coated,” I reply.
My mission this fall is to downsize the junk content of our lives. Now that my children each have homes with attics, cellars and garages of their own, I will stash stuff in their cars when they head home. I will enforce the flea market rules: No purchase left behind. I may even pursue a long-held dream of renting a dumpster.
Somewhere in my future there is a junk-free life. A sparking clean cellar, an attic with just a few boxes of a select Christmas ornaments, and a two-car garage that will hold more than one car.