Breaking Up (w/stuff) Is Hard To Do

Susan Caba
The Resale Evangelista

The silk dress I wore when I first fell in love no longer hangs at the back of my closet. I remember wearing it while riding with my man in his Jeep, top down (the Jeep’s, not mine), feeling sexy. The man is long gone but the dress lingered past its wear date.

It was a memento of a self as I yearned to be—or maybe was, and didn’t recognize. As my mother said at her 50th high school reunion, looking at old photographs of herself and friends: “If only we knew then how hot we were!”

There are 50-some pieces of clothing in my closet. When I travel, I take the same 10 pieces–and wear only five of those. Time to bundle some to Goodwill and take the good stuff to the resale shop. Yes, even my falling-in-love dress. Time to make room for new love.

Neil Sedaka’s song keeps running through my head: “Think of all that we’ve been through, breaking up is hard to do.”  As true for symbols of memories, sometimes, as for the memories, themselves.

I’ve made sporadic progress over the past year. I put my house on the market last summer, necessitating some serious downsizing. (Unfortunately, the house didn’t sell.) The glass-fronted doctor’s cabinet sold fast on Craig’s List. So did the Karastan rug in the dining room; I really liked it but, realistically, am I going to haul a 10-x-12-foot rug to Ecuador?

The garage and basement are still littered with “projects.” An antique dresser I meant to paint and embellish with new hardware. The chaise longue my mother gave me for my 16th birthday, which I  used when I nursed my son. The back legs were broken years ago in a move and I never had them fixed. A cool wooden screen door I salvaged from a condemned house.

 A Chinaman tchotchke


A Chinaman tchotchke

Oh, I’ve had garage sales. And the little stuff goes. But there’s always something left, usually the things I most wanted to be gone. Like the Bowflex my son left behind, a rickety desk and a perfectly good mahogany cabinet with a broken door that I found on the street. None attracted buyers at a garage sale last summer.

I decided those left-overs had to go, no matter what. But I wasn’t sure how to get the big items to Goodwill. Just then, a battered white van pulled in to the driveway.  An old man got out and asked about the Bowflex, which I’d priced at $70.

“Take it, it’s yours,” I told the man, impulsively.
“Free?” he asked.
“Free,” I repeated, with only a split-second of regret about the money.
“Lamont,” he said to his son, packing up the Bowflex, “I’m going to be 60 years old, but I got me a gym and I’m going to be young again!”

They took the broken cabinet and rickety desk, too. Sometimes the universe smiles.

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