Being Neighborly

There are many things pleasant about the springtime stoop-sale. 

While the weekend sunlight weaves through the open spots in the cherry blossom across the street, we garbage bag clothes, unfold the card tables, dust off my grandfather’s old theater posters, and artfully arrange mismatched mugs, old jewelry, vases, and candlestick holders. We position furniture like living rooms, hang coats in trees, remove pictures from frames. We break our twenties, then take chalk and draw big arrows on the street corners. All other days, when we are shredding our junk mail, afraid to advertise our address, it is today that we want to be found. Someone, go get coffee from Caputo’s. 

On the one hand, when our things finally begin to feel heavy, purging is cleansing. After my last blog post on how Michael only wants to wear/own two shirts, I assessed my own (gym) t-shirt situation and tossed what felt like 100 t-shirts. How fast we accumulate the same shit is kind of shocking. How fast we attribute keeping the same shit due to made-up sentiment is equally as shocking. But this t-shirt was my dad’s; but this t-shirt was a gift; but this t-shirt is so soft; but this t-shirt says UMass on it. I now have a neat stack of about 10 t-shirts on my shelf. (8 too many for Michael.) Most of them say Brooklyn on it (the pleasure of words and home rolled into one). 

And then on the other hand, setting up shop and/or perusing through a neighbor’s shop rejuvenates the spirit of “buying local.” The stoop sale is the baby of small businesses and by perching ourselves outside our own, we’re not only inviting community into our nest, we’re creating a sense of new adventure on familiar streets. We’re meeting the new family across the street that speaks French; we’re having a longer conversation with the old lady down the block who is always with the broom. Carroll Gardens had character(s) long before the neighborhood saw specialty stores for ramen noodles and smoked fish. But it’s the people that have character, that bring the character, and not the things we are looking to sell. 

We make use of the stoop and watch the traffic. The vans that slow and roll down their windows. The bicyclists that ask us to watch their bikes so they can leaf through books. The kids who inadvertently take plastic things off tables and just leave. But we say hello and thank you to everyone because there is no day better than stoop-sale day for being neighborly.