Man, I pine for those days when I had but my hot-off-the-press, highly worthless college diploma and just a few boxes of books and dishes to my name! Whee! I was 21, with a pickup truck that I could fill up with my worldly possessions and jet about the world, looking for cheap rents and even cheaper thrills.
I recall with fondness my first post-college apartment situation. My friend Heather and I both had crappy jobs - she managed an unstable group home of raucous, mentally challenged young men, while I passed deathless, substance-free hours in a cube farm for a Large Boring Financial Company - and our weekends were given to long drawn-out breakfasts full of cigarettes and newspapers and trawling for the unusual, whether we found it in bars, restaurants, in the sack with various No Good Men, or, our most reliable outlet, thrift stores.
While we had received some mercy donations from family and friends - a couch, a bed, a chipped formica table in that awful faux bois that seems to be coming back - much time was spent haunting the Salvation Army, hunting for various random items that, we, New Women in the World, did not currently own.
Cookie sheets. Book shelves. Objets d' art. Ceramic fruit bowls. Ice cream spades.
I remember most especially one of those warm June days where we garage saled aimlessly and stumbled upon one of those sales you think so fondly of later, in frosty, backlit tones and pricing that tends to decrease with each recall.
It was held in the alley, using the garage and the backyard of an older home in Minneapolis. There was the usual household stuff, with not a whiff of children's junk or plastic. The couple running it were older and greyer than Heather and I, but certainly not pitiable or depressing. In fact, I remember thinking they were dashing and snappy, for people their age. This probably had much to do with my own youth as well as the merchandise they sold.
It appeared this couple was divesting themselves of all their entertainment ware. Underneath a pergola trailed with a flowering vine (okay, it might have been a carport, but my nostalgia makes everything seem like Tennesse Williams) I recall many types of corks and wine and bottle openers. Several glass pickle and relish dishes, an array of specialty silverware like shrimp forks and sugar cube tongs, and all sorts of liquor and wine glassware. Wine goblets, brandy snifters, champagne flutes. Glasses for margaritas, martinis, high balls, aperitifs and shots. Ashtrays, pipes, serving trays, crystal decanters. These people had LIVED. Or at least accumulated like folks who had lived.
Though I was just graduating from cans of Busch Light Draft, I decided to buy a copper band that looked like cuff bracelet for gauging directly the temperature of wine. They apparently are still sold, but I haven't been able to find the particular one that I had, which was copper and had grape vines twining along the number scale.
This never-used item accompanied me on several moves until I decided that it seemed highly unlikely that a) this item would continue to work or b) its reading would give me information I was educated enough to do anything about.
Still, I remember this wine cuff, now long gone, in someone else's drawer, perhaps languishing on a thrift store shelf, reminding me, in a hazy soft focus, of how garage sales can be so romantic and full of promise.