Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Saturdays Are For Garage Sales

This Saturday, for some reason, there was an abundant number of garage sales locally. I usually accompany my sister and her family on their "saling", and that day was no exception. I always look for any action figures or old books that are in good shape, and maybe once every four trips I find something good. This time, at the second garage sale we visited, I found a good batch of action figures for sale, for fifty cents each. I ended up with thirteen figures and a bag of accessories.

Three were super heroes. There was a Justice League Superman and Batman. The Batman had a bluish sheen to his basic black color that made him sufficiently different to warrant inclusion. There was also a Batman from the animated Batman Begins, that is really different, mainly in the sculpt of the chin.

Two were from Code Lyoko. I had often seen these figures at Toys'R'Us and thought about getting them if there was nothing else, but never did. They were Yumi and Odd, and I was glad I got the bag of accessories because Odd's tail was in it.

But the main batch was from Avatar. What is with this suddenly? I'm finding used and remaindered figures from this series everywhere. Is it because the show is finally ended? Anyway, there were two Angs, two Zukkos, one Waterbending Ang, Sokka, Avatar Roku, and the reportedly rare Fire Nation Soldier. Most of the weapons in the bag were theirs.

I love going to garage sales, because not only might you find a good bargain, you also get a glimpse into how other people live. You see their fads and follies, and discarded fashions. You could fill a library with the diet and cook books that are offered up at every single sale. I comb through the interchangeable genre fiction and every now and then I find a gem tossed thoughtlessly aside. I like to think you don't often find the good stuff, because the good stuff is what people keep. Or maybe they just don't buy it.

But most melancholy of all is an estate sale. Here you observe not just the gleanings and leftovers of life, but the spiraling outward explosion of possessions breaking away from the gravitational pull of a life suddenly no longer there. We visited one this Saturday, and I fancy I could read some of the history. A widow, with still some of the things from her husband, and either grown children who had already taken the few memories they wanted, or none at all. Furniture that had not been changed since the 70's. Neat over all, but with things dragged out of the neglected corners into the sunlight, appraised by strangers and disposed impersonally. I bought a couple of books, Norman Rockwell's Christmas Book and Fairy Tales and After by Roger Sale, a book of literary criticism on children's books. I wondered how that one had ended up there. Was somebody a teacher, or just interested in fantasy? The other volumes for sale gave no clue.

The last garage sale took us by a yard...it had pale green carpet grass, yellowing around the edges, and starred with fallen sycamore leaves. A scent rose from it, earthy, dry, baking already in the sun. Perhaps only my brothers can understand how evocative that is of the past for me. Garage sales are good. They take you to places nearby you've never known, and sometimes they can lead you by your past again.

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