The Bridges of Yard Sale County

First of all, thank God for friends who don’t let you get away with getting all dramatic.


Y’all are right. I’m in the right place at the right time, and really, aren’t we always in the right place, even when it sucks? I’m just a little bored, trying to be okay with the decision to stop helping people as a career, and also little embarrassed by my last post. I kind of feel like the high school girl who stayed up all night writing dark and dramatic poems in her journal and then turned it in to the High School literary magazine in a fit of poor, poor judgment. I also like to call this feeling “Vicious PMS.” You can see more of my work in this medium in such classics as “Late Night Nonsense Argument with Husband,” “Ridiculously Rigid Toddler Rules, ” and the timeless “OMiGod That Commercial Was SO SAD, Where Are the Tissues.”

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I have a twitch in my right thumb. It is driving me crazy, this thumb flicking about on its own.

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YARD SALE LIST! That’s what “YS List” stands for. I was going to make a list of yard sales and drag Bird around town tomorrow morning, buying other people’s castoffs and making promises to refinish/ re cover/ rewire. (That last one is funny, I’ve never rewired anything. But I have promised.) I’m not really going to make a YS list—my parents are coming in from Indiana for the weekend. But at one point I sure thought I was.

Here’s a yard sale story for you:

I grew up in an Indiana town divided right down the middle by two-lane Highway 36, also known as Main Street. Highway 36 will take you all the way to Colorado, eventually, but about an hour or so down the road from my hometown is Rockville, home of the Parke County Covered Bridge Festival. It is also the covered bridge capital OF THE WORLD. In your sappy face, Madison County.

If you have either a Tom Petty song or an REM song in your head after reading that last paragraph, dude, so do I. And we are totally old.

The festival is corny and crafty, and most years I never made it all the way to Rockville to walk around the town square and eat caramel apples and browse the nine hundred varieties of cutesy scarecrows made of straw and burlap. My main event was the drive from my town to Rockville along Highway 36, a long straight country drive in the early fall under a fat blue sky. And what could make that scene more appealing than the rural residents of three Central Indiana Counties dragging their crazy-assed junk to the side of a skinny old highway, ready to haggle over old handmade quilts, ridiculously kitschy furniture, driftwood lamps and broken electronics? And some of them even sold homemade gooseberry pie. I loved it. It was like a holiday to me.

I went year after year, sometimes dragging a college friend along, sometimes my mom, sometimes just me alone. I started to realize that some of the yard-salers were setting the same stuff out, year after year. I developed favorites (the gooseberry pie ladies, for example) and ventured down other county roads for even kookier loot and sometimes spookier people. I found the sweet spots, the hidden treasure, the stacks of embroidered pillowcases and ugly landscape paintings.

One year I took Beardog with me, during the period of his life where he went everywhere I went. We were a stinky, hair-covered team, me blowing down the highway singing at the tops of my lungs in the sunshine with the windows down, Beardog exhibiting the excellent dog quality of not complaining about loud singing, both of us hopping in and out of the car whenever something looked interesting.

I was haggling with a wiry old man in a lawn chair behind a long train of card tables over some old camera or belt buckle or brooch, and I looked down to find my sweet floofy dog freely pissing all over a cardboard box full of For Sale Junk—a $1 your-choice bin sort of thing that was stashed under the table separating me and the man with the overpriced broken radios. Having no idea how many precious $1 items were housed in that box, and being at the end of the day’s cash, I ended our negotiation and walked Beardog swiftly back to our car and drove away. I don’t know if anyone ever noticed the piss-box.

I’ve always felt a little guilty and a little victorious about that.

In closing, let’s talk about what happens when you edit that story:

I went to a yard sale.

My dog pissed on a box of junk.

I kept quiet and left in a hurry.

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2 comments

  1. Elliemae

    I effing love it! I too have made the same journey several times over. I love the fry pie Amish ladies. Never took my dog, I may try that next fall. YS season is in full swing! I never promise to “rewire” though, you’re ballsy!

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