Digging through Junk

Charlene - Woodland Hills, California
Entered on March 1, 2009

I can’t remember the time before my mother started waking me up before the sun on Saturdays. When I was younger I dreaded her excited voice in the morning. I knew what I had to look forward to: at least three hours in random houses talking to strangers while negotiating prices for their junk.

I would look at my mothers smiling face confused. Her unconditional love for trinkets made of “white glass” baffled me. As years passed I slowly gained an understanding of why my mother loves garage sales. When my mother was growing up she shared a twin bed with two of her eight siblings and lived in a small house. There was never enough money to spend on clothes or toys anywhere other then garage sales. She loves white glass because she used to clean this nice old lady’s house when she was a teenager and there was white glass in her kitchen window that she would admire and long for. Now when we venture to garage sales many of the houses that sell their things have white glass and she is able to buy it.

I first started to really love garage sales when the vintage era came about. They were the perfect place to buy affordable clothes that were fashionable. So the tables turned and I became the one who would run around excitedly in the morning

and wake my mother when the stars were still out. Not too long later, the green movement spread across the globe. I realized another reason to love garage sales: buying recycled clothing is a great way to help the environment.

During my first quarter of college I took a cultural geography class and learned about those suffering all around the world for the first time. In the mist of all this new information, I became very aware that almost everything I wear in a day comes from a sweatshop. Now that I know more about the distress the world is in, I realized I needed to stop caring about brand names on my clothing. They support the companies that go into less developed countries and take advantage of their poor conditions. Buying clothing from garage sales and thrift stores doesn’t promote brand names so I decided to only buy my clothing second hand this way I wouldn’t be promoting the suffering of others.

When I wake up in the morning it feels so good to wear clothes that have been worn so many times before I bought them. Even now that I have many other reasons to enjoy buying second hand. I just love to wear something someone else loved to wear or maybe hated to wear. I connect with people I never knew through their old clothes. I don’t know why there might be a stain on a shirt I own but maybe the person who owned it before me was clumsy like me. I believe in buying second hand clothing, it has made me aware of so much in my life that I never would have thought about and it is slowly shaping who I want to be.