Baseball Cards & Painful Garage Sales
I would have gotten rid of this stuff if I had an idea of how worthless it is
I collected baseball cards. I invested in baseball cards. I never had a girlfriend. I had dreams that baseball cards would be worth money. Real money; as though I would never need to carry cash. I would be able to acquire a girlfriend, if their value went up. I thought I would be able to pay for milk with a Barry Bonds. Not even a rookie card; just a 3rd year card. I had over a hundred thousand sports cards. They took up the whole house, to the point that my dad resented me. He loved me too much to kick me out and the cards were too expensive to throw out. My parents started to like the athletes more than me. I never made it on the piano, but all-star players did. I remember them taking around the Freelings, ‘This is our other child, Michael Jordan Rookie. Worth $1,000. We can sell it for $50…now that our son has taken up every closet in the house and not sold anything, ever…No. We have no pictures of David.’
When I moved to Israel, I was willing to give it all up. I had a garage sale. I took all of my stuff outside, and five hours later I brought it all back in. I was committed, but I couldn’t get rid of anything; it all had sentimental value. It is hard to sell sentimental value to strangers. I was an attached salesman, attacking my customers with, ‘Why are you looking at that lamp?..$225!..to look…Yes, you can get it at Wal-Mart for $5, but a little boy did not grow up to the Wal-Mart lamp. Did he? I said, did he?!..No, the price went up to $300. That is right, it is a protection lamp. It protects from ghosts. And the teddy bear, $90. Missing a tale. $90…The tale came off in camp. You are paying for the memories. Can you put a price on memories?…No, exactly…It is a Care Bear. Why? Because it cares. It cares about my past, unlike you. So you can’t even have it.’ I was involved with my love for my stuff. The customers left before I got through that sales pitch. Now my stuff is still at my parents’ house. I would bring my stuff to Israel, but there is not enough room for my stuff in Jerusalem. I could use the built in ceiling closet space, but I am always scared that whatever I put in there will fall through the plank holding it up.
Israel doesn’t have garage sales, because there are no garages. Instead, Israel has porch sales, which do very poor business. It is hard to sell stuff when your customers have no away of getting through the security system at the entrance to your building. I did make it to one porch sale, which was just embarrassing. I didn’t want anything after I had to walk through the house to get to the ‘for sale’ items. First, I couldn’t get into the sale until they threw down the keys. Most of the good stuff in the house had been stolen by the first customer, who used their tossing down the key to the front door as a chance to rob them. On the way to the porch, we saw the rest of the good items, but those were not for sale. We passed a nice flat screen TV, but they said, ‘This is not for sale. Only the stuff we don’t want, on the porch, is for sale.’ This kind of made me not want to buy it. It was similar to a house sale I went to, in America, where they take me through, ‘We are getting rid of this ugly chair. We don’t want it. The beautiful mahogany set, we are taking.’ They are just showing off for the whole town. ‘This is the great stuff you don’t have.’ As if they invited me to show me how great their home is, but they have no coffee or cake, and I am supposed to purchase the bad stuff for my ugly home. It makes me feel bad, as if I am not good enough for the good stuff.
Shopping doesn’t make me feel worthless and not as good. At Wal-Mart, when we are both purchasing DVDs, I feel just as good as the next guy. When we Rollback to $9.99 together, I feel we are all the same and unity. Truth is that there is not enough space in the two bedroom apartments in Israel for children, let alone stuff that you want to get rid of. Memories are in the heart, and that is what you bring to Israel. That is all there is space for. The heart doesn’t take up room. And you don’t have to have a porch sale, which is a bad idea anyways. The heart does not have a porch.
The porch sale was pathetic. When I showed and asked what good stuff they had, their answer was, ‘We have a great view.’
I am caring individual. That is why it is hard for me to part with stuff. Some of my friends call me a hoarder. I am not a hoarder. I am somebody who keeps stuff, just in case. Shoelaces, just in case Nike stops making shoes. The glove everybody thinks I should throw out? Just in case we find the matching mitten. Just because I moved ten years ago, does not mean I should give up. Sometimes stuff gets thrown into the back of a box. And it takes a good two decades to go through all the UHaul boxes. The sock with a hole, you ask? I might sew it up, or use it for the mouth of a sock puppet. You never know. I am committed and it is hard for me to leave stuff. As I left the place and belongings of my childhood, Aliyah was emotionally hard. Now, I have a whole host of pamphlets and memorabilia I have kept on the floor of my house and on all the counters, which I have collected and not organized since I moved to Israel, almost 10 years ago. This does not make me a hoarder. It makes me a carer. It makes me somebody who is ready, just in case Israel stops making maps and brochures of Mini Israel. I have them somewhere.
Is Aliyah giving up my childhood? Disconnecting from my past and who I am? Is Aliyah not following the tradition of my European ancestry and moving to Brooklyn? Is it saying goodbye to all the plastic bags I saved from CVS all these years, just in case they stop making plastic, or I visit Canada? I am not going to give you an answer. Mull over it for a few days and move to Israel.
I can tell you, it is emotional. I did not disconnect from you, my friends who made my childhood a nightmare: Noah, Ben, Sol, Phyllis, Yael, Jordi, Monica, Eliezer, James, Risa, Ari, Kara, David, Yissy, Sarah, Jason, Brian, Alex (I have to stop- there are more). You may all live in America, but you are part of my memories. Damn, I got a tear. Most of you left Hillel School, but you are with me. I hope I got the spelling right, from roll call. Sol didn’t even join us in school, but you were around. You are all with me, because you had to be. We were forced to be together as children and there is something holy to that. Forced to go through school together. Compete for no reason with each other. When we got to college, we realized we weren’t good athletes anyways. We shared recess together and wondered for years, ‘is it ever going to be longer.’ We played tackle football with no pads together, and our parents didn’t say anything because pads are expensive, and I am still injured. We played with each other because we had no other friends. We were buddies because our parents gave us no choice. We were in a class with 8 other children, all Jewish. Our parents imparted the most important lesson a young religious child could learn there are only eight other people in the world and they are all Jewish.
I want to move ahead with my life. But I have to meet a woman, preferably, and I do not want it to be a selfish relationship where we are rubbing noses in public. Basically, I do not want a happy relationship, because that bothers people. You’ll see that stuff in the next book, ‘Yeridah: I Have A Family To Support.’
I will not move ahead without the essence of who I am. The people of Rochester, New York, who are forever in my heart, the people who were my nurture, my family, my community, the reason I am odd and single.