I'm getting ready for a yard sale next weekend. Even after a ruthless sorting before the move, there are still lots of things to peddle by the garage. Some stuff just didn't work with the new house--drapes, a couple of tables, and some rather costly window blinds my parents bought me for Christmas a couple of years ago. I'd hoped they might fit some of the new windows, not that I bothered to measure, and so with us they came. Also on the block are bikes and jackets that don't fit any longer and the inevitable exercise gizmo I never used. (For the record, I have blown through my fair share of home exercise equipment, including a couple of stationary bikes and a mini-trampoline. It was instructive in that I realized nothing of this sort is built to actually be used, so after six months of regular use, springs and ball bearings give way, sometimes alarmingly quickly.)
At the back of the utility closet, I found a mailbox. It's a beautiful Craftsman-style one I bought for the house I shared with my former husband. Five years ago he moved out and I decided, in a fit of simultaneous relief and self-delusion, to do some things around the house I'd wanted to do but hadn't because he'd disagreed with them. So I got rid of the ugly mailbox left by the elderly woman from whom we bought the house and installed one that complimented the lines of the prairie-style bungalow. Then the split became real, I moved out and into a rental, but I took the mailbox with me. It had cost a hundred bucks or so and looked as good as new, and I didn't want to leave it behind. When I finally did buy another house, I thought it might work, but I have a charming mail slot here and don't need it. Still, I had a pang when I marked the price. A lot less than what I paid, but hard to let go for others reasons I can't quite name.
Then I tackled the blinds, whose strings had gotten all intertwined during the move. I spent a good hour working through the knots and twists until I finally liberated them from one another. For a while at the beginning, I was worried they would go the way of my holiday "net" lights that I tried to put up on my deck trellis, which is also covered in a tangle of wisteria. In preparation for the housewarming party, I invested enough time in hanging these lights to cure a major disease, or so it seemed, and never really did get them sorted out. At times like this, I wonder if part of my brain didn't really develop, since I am so befuddled by such tasks. Anyway, I left the lights up, and once it got dark and the party was going, they looked pretty and no one noticed that they weren't perfectly strewn.
To be sold, the blinds need to be separated. I got agitated, but once I calmed down and concentrated on the mechanics of how the strings were tangled up and looked closely at how they might be pulled apart, I didn't feel so hopeless and mad at myself for not knowing how to make it simple. To accomplish this task, there were no short cuts. The only way through it was with patience and attention, and now they are neatly separated and priced. Like the mailbox, they don't serve me in my current life, and it's time to let them go. I'll not get my original investment back, but I'll get more from selling them that from what they give me by taking up space. Not just a few bucks, but more room to breathe.