We had a yard sale in my neighborhood the other day. I didn’t have a lot to sell. I’ve purged so much in my recent moves that everything I own, which isn’t much, are things I want or need. I try not to buy tchotchkes or meaningless stuff that I’m excited about for a week but then just collects dust on a shelf somewhere.
Picture frames and Made in China sculptures and Mason jars with fake flowers are the misfit toys of adulthood. I will spend extra money on clothes and food and gifts. That’s about it.
I do have a lot of books though. And records. So I set to work picking out ones to sell. Prepping for a yard sale can be stressful — figuring out what to sell, deciding what to charge for what you do decide to sell, and confronting a mental list of just how insignificant the crap you own is can an existential crisis make.
Adding to the frustration? Masking tape. Why is it so sticky on your fingers but never on the actual thing you need it to stick to? WHY?!
I share a house with four other people. We each live in one corner apartment of the house. The others had filled our backyard on yard sale day with so many goodies! My records and books looked kind of lonely huddled together on my back porch.
About half of my stuff sold. Turns out anything priced for more than $2 at a yard sale is just ridiculous. Who the fuck do you think you are charging $5 for an ornate antique ashtray? The buyer has all the power. He or she knows you’ve gone to all this trouble to pick out this junk, label it with that pestiferous masking tape, and sit outside while strangers dally around like zombies in your back yard. You just want it gone. So how low will you go?
The night before, when I was curating just what of my bookshelves to feed to these deal-seeking wolves, I decided there were a few records in my collection I just couldn’t part with. Surprise, they were the ones with sentimental value.
“Boys Don’t Cry” by The Cure: I listened to this album nearly every morning of my sophomore year of college.
“Abbey Road” by The Beatles: An ex-boyfriend got this for me and I still think it’s sweet because everyone has that one person from their early 20s that makes them think of a Beatles song.
“Portrait of Bobby” by Bobby Sherman: Belonged to my teenage mom.
The Black Keys and John Frusciante and MIA? Sell. Sell. Sell. This stuff’s gotta go! A deal you can’t refuse! But wait there’s more! I’ll sweeten the pot and let you take this masking tape off my hands! No really. Please. Can you rip this tape off my hands?
One album, though, that didn’t get purchased during my yard sale has been the focus of my last few weeks, musically speaking.
The thing with records is that you can remember where you got most of them. You remember the crazy deal you found them for, or who you pilfered it from, or what barter you made to get it, or which mom wanted you to please, annoying hipster kid, just take them from the basement so there’s less junk down there. I have three editions of “Rumors” by Fleetwood Mac from an ex’s mom’s old collection.
There is a pride to finding classics for so cheap. It is a reminder of their fragility and the way we discard or forget things that once meant so much to us. Sometimes the story means more than the music.
But I just cannot remember how I got “Something/ Anything” by Todd Rundgren. It’s such a random pick and I am not familiar with him except for this album. Hell, I didn’t even know he sings that insurance commercial song “I DON’T WANT TO WORK. I JUST WANT TO BANG ON THE DRUM ALL DAY.” until I was recently Spotifying all his work.
But I have this album completely memorized. This album has been in my rotation for about seven years. I can’t believe I was trying to sell it for only $2 the other day. Talk about not knowing something’s, anything’s worth.
This album is the ultimate in spring listening. And if there’s a time to be easy and smooth and optimistic, it is the time when spring is folding into summer. You’ve settled into rainy nights and a warmth that feels like a hug rather than a chokehold. “Something/ Anything” makes me feel like I’m on the water. Just laying on my back, eyes closed.
I’m thankful no one bought this up. Sometimes one woman’s trash is actually her own treasure.