Often on my garage sale excursions I end up having lengthy conversations with the people holding them. I am always curious about their lives and why they are selling their things and the history of those things. A bit of cultural anthropology, if you will.
Yesterday I went to a sale I read about on Craigslist in a place called Leisure Village. I was expecting to find someone either selling off a deceased parents’ things or perhaps a couple in their late seventies or eighties since Leisure Village is a huge development for senior citizens. Instead I met a woman who was maybe sixty but had a youthful air, her VW bus and VW Karmann Ghia out front.
She had had stints as costume designer, makeup artist, and curtain maker. She told me she was now a hypnotist and massage therapist who was on disability since being rear ended in her little Karmann Ghia in the parking lot of Vons Grocery by a semi-truck. I noticed she had a lot of cats, often a sign of a woman living alone. I asked if she was married and she said no. I told her a little about my story of being a mom and how I am collecting vintage fabric and patterns to make dresses for a fashion show benefitting an adoption center. I asked if she had any children, and she told me no, she had only had abortions.
She went on to tell me the story of her first abortion in 1969, the same year I was born. I quietly thanked my mom, who had also been young and unmarried that year but had chose to have me anyway. The woman then told me how she had paid an abortion broker 600 dollars in West LA and had arranged to meet her in a parking garage. This was before 1973 when abortion in the US had become legalized. She had then been blindfolded before entering the doctors office. They had told her to take some pills beforehand but she told me how she was afraid to swallow pills, so she didn’t take them. Strange that someone who was about to undergo illegal surgery would be afraid to swallow a few pills, no? She then told me about how she had had a D&C without any anesthesia by a doctor who remained silent the whole time. I was starting to feel a little dizzy at this point. I asked her how she felt about that event, now so many years later. She told me how she felt nothing, and had proceeded to go on to have more abortions. She explained how she had married the man who had been the father of the first baby she had the abortion with and how the marriage had failed after only two years. Shortly after the divorce her ex had gone on to invent something having to do with stock analysis and had become a multi-millionaire. Perhaps if they had had the baby together things would have been different, I thought. I thought about her story as I left. Why was she telling me this deeply personal story if she didn’t feel some kind of remorse or regret? She must have been traumatized on some level, if not just by the physical pain of it.
As I drove away with my sewing shears and vintage blender I had bought from her, I said a silent prayer for her and her aborted babies. One decision can change the course of a person’s life forever. I realize this isn’t a political blog but sometimes things like this compel me to write about them. The lessons we can learn just by speaking to someone at a garage sale.