Our community provides a special type of trash pick-up a couple times each year. Folks put their unwanted or broken items on the curb at a set time period and the municipality arranges for trucks to come around and collect the discarded items. We experienced a similar service when we lived in Sydney, Australia many years ago, although the setting-out period seemed a bit longer than it is here and now.
What is interesting of both experiences is that during the setting-out period and right up until the collection happens, a trove of “collectors” drive through neighborhoods looking for salvageable items. Because I, too, was once a “dumpster diver,” I no longer arrange garage sales or consignments for my unwanted items. Instead, if something has lost its use or appeal in my world, I wait for these community collections and simply set those things out on the curb. I know they will find use in someone else’s life.
For example, the photo shows what’s left of the treasures we placed on the curb just a couple of days ago. These remnants are truly trash. What you don’t see is the 24-year-old foldable beach umbrella, the treadle sewing machine in an oak cabinet, new but unused light fixtures, a charcoal barbeque grill and accessories, and tail lights from a car of the previous owner of our house (left behind when they moved four years ago).
I was a bit sad to release the treadle sewing machine. It served as a reminder of the way I learned to sew, taught by a Polish neighbor lady when I was nine years old. This particular machine had been given by a family member as payment of a debt owed to me, but it languished in the garage for a couple of years while I waited for the cigarette smoke to dissipate from the oak cabinet. That never really happened, and we need the space for other items. Thus, it was time to truly let it go.
I’m finding it easier and easier to let go of long-held memorabilia that I once found so dear. Certain ones, family heirlooms and artwork, are finding their way to my children now. The rest? If they still hold a space in my heart, they stay… like religious statues on the bookshelf or family photographs on the walls.
Trash or treasure? Now I keep only what holds meaning for me. And when it doesn’t? It’ll be time to let that go as well.