A few weeks ago, my son and I moved to a new home and began a new chapter in our lives. Within two weeks, of moving, everything was in its place, all the pictures were hung and we celebrated our new beginning with family and friends.
Much to my chagrin however, was our 2-car garage packed to the rafters with stuff… boxes and boxes stacked from floor to ceiling that included every stitch of clothing my son had worn over the past 8 years, school artwork, progress reports, family photographs — framed and unframed, toys my children played with when they were babies, clothes my children wore when they were babies, clothes i wore when i was a baby, holiday decorations, in-line skates my son had skated round miles and miles of a skate park but now no longer fit him, a tennis racket that hasn’t hit a ball since the 90’s, snow skis that haven’t skimmed along powder since ’05, two mountain bikes with airless tires but the promise of adventure, two beach cruisers whose beach luvin’ riders are currently land-locked, and on and on. I looked around at the boxes and things that made up so many memories, turned off the light and quietly closed the door.
The next day a miracle came in the form of a notice taped to my front door announcing a neighborhood garage sale that would be taking place this coming weekend. Oh my gosh. An opportunity to get rid of all this stuff and have a place for my car to call home. I was on a mission and over the next week I unpacked so many boxes that I lost count.
I went through the 10 boxes I’d stashed away over the years containing my son’s clothing… everything from his little league baseball jerseys, school p.e. clothes (thank goodness they were laundered!), lil boy boxer shorts (really?), and the tiniest of ski gloves he wore when he was first learning to ski. I put the “keepers” in a single box and set them aside and the contents of the other 9 boxes were to be sold.
I went through boxes of children’s books and toys keeping the “lil people” farm and town that had spurned hours of imagination, the thomas the tank engine my son clickety clacked, clickety clacked around and around the track, chew toys that helped ease the pain of budding new teeth and books that by simply glancing at the title, brought back wondrous memories of rock-a-bye sleepy times and “mommy, I can read this one all by myself now!” There were boxes of games and puzzles, some worn from endless play and replay and others with the store packaging still embracing the contents. A box discovered of long forgotten small kitchen appliances that hadn’t blended a smoothie or grilled a hot dog in ages, cameras bought on vacation and never shot again, all set aside for hopeful new homes.
The day of the garage sale, it was a lovely morning, cool and breezy with the sun shining bright. We watched as car after car drove up to our home, some more eager than others choosing to park right in the middle of the street (seriously!), and we sat watching in amazement as they meandered through the maze of boxes spilling over with clothing, toys, stuffed animals, books, cd’s, dvds, games, puzzles, and even a box containing vhs tapes marked as “$5 and the whole box is yours!”
I decided to have a lil’ fun and started offering things for free. I had a holiday decoration I’d received from a friend long ago and was never quite sure what it was for. I stuck a post-it note on it that said “free” and placed it on a table where it was more visible. Within 5 minutes, a woman picked it up and asked, “is this for a candle?” Since I had no idea, I replied, “sure!” and she gave me a big smile, said “and it’s free?” me, “yep!” and off she went with her new found treasure.
After a few hours, I decided to put out the first dslr camera I had purchased and used when I was a youth sports photographer. It was a 2nd year Canon Rebel and I loved that camera. After buying my next “big girl” camera, my son would accompany me on shoots and the rebel became his to use. Several people looked at the camera but were turned away by the price I was asking. I had most likely subconsciously priced it a bit high because I wasn’t quite sure if I wanted to sell it, but I left it on the table to see if it would get any more bites. Shortly, an elderly couple came and the woman was looking around for things to buy for her grandchildren and the gentleman spied the camera. He picked it up, and just by the way he held it, I could tell he wanted it. He asked me how much and I told him the price, and he said, “oh no too much.” He then went to seek out his wife and I saw him chatting with her and then he found his way back to the camera. I showed him the two lenses I was offering with it, and walked him through how the camera worked, even taking a shot of him. Once he saw the picture, he was very excited and said it would be the best camera he’d ever had. I negotiated with him a bit, we settled on a fair price and he went to talk it over with his wife. As I was tucking the camera back into the case, I was flooded with emotion that I didn’t expect. The memories of some of the shots I’d taken over the years, including the many of my son as he played soccer and little league, but the most vivid was of him with the rebel around his neck shooting the kids as they ran by him on the soccer field and exclaiming to me, “did you see me get the shot mom?” The man handed me the money for the camera, and when I saw the excitement in his eyes, I knew I’d made a good choice. He proudly put the camera bag on his shoulder, said “thank you very, very, much” and off he went along with my memories and to capture some of his own.
After the last car pulled away, my son and I decided to call it a day and as we packed up the few items left unsold, he suggested we donate them to our church where they will be distributed to homeless families.
This photograph of my children taken 10 years ago, is one of the first shots I took with the rebel and after seeing this image, I knew I wanted to be a professional photographer.
On this Mother’s Day, my 27th year of being a mother, I’ve come to the realization that it’s not about all the stuff accumulated over the years — holding on to it for the fear of losing the memories that are intertwined with each item of clothing, book, toy or souvenir from far away bango bango. I’ll always have the memories to cherish. And now as I look upon our newly organized garage, my car gleaming in its new home, I turn off the light, quietly close the door, feeling a sense of freedom I’ve not felt in a long, long time and know that it’s okay to move on…