Every time I wander out to our garage, I shake my head and ask myself, “What was I thinking?” Our garage, maybe like yours, is stuffed with a lifetime of possessions, some of which we actually use, of course, but others … The idea of actually parking our car in there is laughable.
After a bit of a mishap at a post-bonspiel dance a few years ago, I asked our friend Jim to go into our garage and retrieve a pair of crutches I knew I had – somewhere in there. He took one look inside the door and bolted. And he doesn’t scare easily. Our garage is Marie Kondo’s worst nightmare.
To be fair, it’s a good idea to keep some things that we don’t use every day, like tools and camping gear and half-filled containers of oil and glue. And crutches.
But what about those lacrosse sticks hanging on the wall? I haven’t touched a lacrosse stick in twenty years, and I never actually played the game. We have every pair of skates my son, now almost 30, ever wore; only the mice have use for them now. And the trumpet my wife Dianne played in high school, which, even she will admit, was a while ago. I have boxes filled with, it would seem, every photograph I’ve ever taken, including the negatives. Remember those? Not to mention a collection of old record albums. Zamfir? The Nylons? What was I thinking?
It’s particularly shocking after all the times Dianne and I have moved and thought we got rid of all the useless junk.
I’m sure you’ve guessed by now that the answer to the ‘What-was-I-thinking?’ question is: I wasn’t. At least not very carefully.
I can’t take all of the blame here, of course. Dianne is certainly implicated. Remember the trumpet? And the kids. Not just the skates, but the other stuff they left behind when they moved away. “Can you keep this for me, Dad?”
Again, let’s be fair; it’s hard to get rid of this stuff, at least in any satisfactory way. There is the garage sale, of course, and believe me I’m planning on one. I’ve never done it before, mostly because I imagine it as the better part of a week getting organized, two long days of sitting in the sun fending off low-ballers, packing up what didn’t sell sometime late Sunday, then counting up our earnings, most of it in small change: what, $35?
On a hot summer weekend, I’d rather spend $35 on cold beer and snacks and sit on the dock, where I can’t even see the garage.
I’ve posted items for sale online, but because we live in the country, and the bidders tend to be in Ottawa or Montreal and don’t know where, or what, L’Orignal is, they expect delivery. I have sold a few of my hundreds of books to secondhand shops, but that doesn’t pay much and I always seem to regret it. One or two that I reluctantly sold, I later bought back.
Some stuff, like my old chainsaw, or my leaf blower – why on earth did I buy a leaf blower? – just needs to be repaired or tuned up. I’m mechanically incompetent, so it’s unlikely I’ll do it, and I refuse to pay more for getting them serviced than I paid for them new. What to do?
There is recycling, and if I’m good at one thing, it’s about taking old paints and oils and such to the annual hazardous waste collection. And we’re regulars at the L’Orignal thrift shop drop-off. But I know a lot of what I want to dispose of isn’t recyclable.
Then there is the final, least appealing alternative: the garbage bin. And surely that is where some of this stuff is destined. The price I pay for that, though, is guilt, because some of these gems could still be used. The lacrosse sticks are in quite good shape, after all.
Maybe people still go to landfills to find little things they need; when I was a kid, I used to accompany my grandfather to the garbage dump near his cottage when he needed a part for his stove or fridge. For me it was a treasure hunt, with flies. I loved it. Are you allowed to do that anymore?
Anyway, you get the point.
Whenever I see signs posted for weekend garage sales, usually in the spring, I word play: Why are these people selling their garage? Very witty.
But, then again, maybe that’s the solution.