I had two hours off this morning while Mike took MJ to dance class. Bliss! The house being in decent condition, I decided to spoil myself with some retail therapy. There had been a big garage sale advertised on my moms’ board; I would go check it out. What fun! I had high hopes. First, it was a good cause: the proceeds were to go to a local preschool. Second, the ad said there were going to be “high end” things there, such as kids’ clothes, toys, and furniture. Woot! Love to buy cheap booty off the rich folks!
I drove to Los Feliz. When I got there I could see right away that the good stuff had been cleaned out already. It was, after all, eleven AM. I did not see anything “high end.” There were cardboard boxes filled with worn Gap clothes, a couple of used potties, several glass vases (there’s a reason florists give those away, people), some brown wicker baskets (ditto), and a bunch of politically incorrect plastic toys that the “high end” parents clearly wanted to flush out of their houses.
I did find one pair of grey Baby Gap leggings that would work as pajamas. They were marked a dollar. Fine. I would take them, and make my trip worthwhile. On the way to check out I spotted a striped hooded shirt that was OK. It had no price. I assumed it was a dollar, too, and decided I’d get it — MJ could use it at the beach, I supposed. Whatever that meant.
When I handed the two items to the lady she told me the shirt was, in fact, two dollars. What? Highway robbery! I told her I would put it back. She looked at me oddly. I remembered it was a charity yard sale.
But, is a preschool that charges $1200 a month really a charity? I decided not.
I repeated that I didn’t want the shirt.
The lady gave me a withering look and said:
“Will you buy it if it’s a dollar?”
I said I would, feeling just victorious enough to mitigate my opposing sense of profound schmuckiness.
Taking my finds, I left.
I stopped at two other garage sales on the way home. At the first the proprietors had apparently lifted up their couch, taken everything they’d found underneath, and laid it on a blanket to sell. I was amazed there were no dustballs. Perhaps those had sold earlier in the day. If you don’t get to these things by nine AM, apparently, all the best floor sweepings are gone.
At the next sale the guy had only three items for sale. The one I wanted, a large clay pot, was priced at eight dollars. I was certain it would’ve sold for the same at Home Depot. I muttered something to him about his “inventory problem” and got back in the car. I’ll bet he gave me the finger as I drove away. It was that kind of day.
Fortunately, I had an ace up my sleeve: a hundred-dollar gift certificate to my favorite store: Potted. I’d gotten it for my birthday. The store was on my way home. This would be fun. This would be easy! Finally some retail satisfaction.
Or not. After wandering around stupidly for a half an hour, I walked out with another plastic Mad Mats rug — this one gigantic. Like, an acre big. My plan was to use it on the concrete area in front of the garage. I call it the “courtyard.”
When I brought it home Mike said “you bought a rug for the driveway?”
He’s right. It is a driveway — technically — and a rug for it is a silly idea. It’s just — I literally froze up at that store. I lost my mind. I meant to get a bunch of stuff for the back garden, and then…I don’t know what happened. I went into some sort of blackout…
“You panicked,” Mike said. “You do that when you shop.”
I guess he’s right. But I can change.
Tomorrow I will return the rug to Potted. I will stay calm, I will take my time, and I will find something else. Something perfect. Something we really, really need. Something that will increase the sense of joy and comfort in the house, add beauty, decrease stress. Maybe a pillow. Or a door mat. Or a few colorful containers to line the — ahem — courtyard with and make it less, well, gulag-like.
On the way I may try a few more yard sales. I’m nothing if I’m not determined. I know the good ones are out there.
I just need to go earlier.