With the popularity of TradeMe, garage sales are supposed to be a thing of the past. But here I am greeting early-morning dealers on the look-out for an antique bargain, migrants from up north with more cash than I’d have believed possible, and people who seem to have made a hobby out of picking up other people’s junk at garage sales all over town. You can imagine their homes filled with bric-a-brac and a groaning spouse as they arrive home with more boxes of useless stuff.
Our friends across town had advertised their unwanted “household goods” in the morning paper and invited us to join them, since we too were trying to declutter the house from decades of collecting aforementioned stuff. As a result, we saved ourselves about 20 listings on TradeMe and came home with a pocketful of small cash – lots of $2 and $1 coins and few healthy banknotes besides.
The sale was advertised to start at 9am. The first bargain-hunters turned up at 8am, so we missed them. But we were there by 8.30 when a steady stream poured up the drive to pick through the stuff we were hastily arranging on tables.
It was such fun. Meeting so many interesting people, bargaining over a few dollars, happy in the end to see so many once-loved pieces going to a home where they would be loved anew – a hand-painted little trinket box from India going to a young girl who couldn’t take her eyes off it; a travel chess set going to a young boy, eyes shining with joy; a tulip-painted going to a kitchen in matching hues of post-box red and cobalt blue.
Back home, after a quick sandwich, there’s a steady stream of friends coming to select a book from the pile of excess books that also have to go. A lifetime of buying books – half a century’s worth I calculated – has resulted in way too many stacks beside the bookcase that have become a trip hazard, not to mention a dust collector.
It’s a time of life, post 65, when you take stock of what you have and give it some serious thought as to whether you need it for the next few decades – should you live so long. Some are a no brainer – like Ulysses and Beowulf. I’ll never read them again. Others catch me out with nostalgia and, right there and then, as I go through the bookshelves, I find myself starting to delve into the pages. Like a favourite book on dreaming and creativity, and another title that catches my eye: “Why Men Don’t Listen…” Still relevant after 20 years. Inside another book is a letter from my mother to my daughter written nearly 30 years ago. And in another, an old shopping list used as a bookmark. The list, surprisingly, is not too dissimilar from what it is now – though, with no kids at home anymore, the quantities are a lot less.
Felicity Price ONZM is an ex-journalist who now writes bestselling books – funny, fast-paced romance-suspense for the over 50s. Read more on www.felicityprice.com