As the orange sun rises over my little pocket of California, I’m unpacking boxes and boxes of trinkets, CDs and jeans I can’t believe once fit me. Arranging everything on the lawn and driveway, I wonder why I chose the hottest Saturday of the year to have a garage sale. Beads of sweat flick off my forehead, a little river courses down my back. Lovely.
Before we even finish laying out the goods, carloads of shoppers drive up. Young kids find the stuffed animals and board games immediately while their parents pick through more practical items. Some prices are marked while others are up for barter. A Hispanic man tries out my maroon velvet over sized chair. “How much?” he asks. “Thirty bucks,” I say, and he suggests $10. No, not at 6:30 in the morning. I tell him $10 is the afternoon price.
A white woman kneels beside one of my jean piles. She is mid-40s, blond, wearing Capri pants, a white t-shirt with “DKNY” in black and nice leather sandals. Her toenails are French manicured. She calls her daughter over, who has iPod buds stuck in her ears. The girl takes her time responding. She fixates on her iPod Nano, working the wheel and taking a few steps toward her mother at a time. She is thin with blond hair cut in a fashionable bob, making her look older than the teenager she is. She wears tight white Apple Bottom jeans and a light pink halter-top. I put her at 16 years old.
By the time she reaches her mom, the woman holds a stack of my nicest jeans – about 5 pair – and smiles eagerly at her child:
Mom: Honey, these are all sevens and in great shape!
Mom: Well, check them out. Here. I think they’re really nice. Look! There’s L.E.I., Ralph Lauren, Calvins… (she hands her the stack).
Girl: Uh huh. Yeah. (She looks at the top pair and hands the stack back to mom).
Mom: Okay, well, I’m going to get them. They’re just your size and in mint condition. They’re only $3 each.
She walks away from her mother and towards their SUV. The mother pays me $15 without hesitation and leaves with a nice stack of denim.
I turn to find a Hispanic mother and her teen daughter looking at one of my old bridesmaid dresses hanging on a coat rack. It’s a lavender strapless chiffon, a popular style in its day but not so high fashion a decade later. Still, the girl fingers the material carefully, swishing the long skirt around her dark legs in faded jean shorts. Her mother removes the dress from the hanger and holds it up to her daughter, both smile.
The mother asks for the price. I tell her $5. The two confer together for a few moments. Both open their purses. The mother produces $4 and the daughter adds $1 of her own. I package the dress in its original garment bag and when I turn to hand it over, the girl is hugging her mother with both arms:
"Thank you mom! Thank you so much."