Sunday, May 26, 2013

Finding a memory at the resale shop

My mother was an antique dealer.  She dealt in wares from another time and place.  1st editions with yellowed pages and a faint musty smell.  Dolls with cracked paint on their rosey cheeks and eyes that still opened and closed if she was packed away properly.  Worn, golden wedding rings that had long since said goodbye to their wearer.  Postcards with a picture of an old family store and ancient scribble across the back.  She gave history new life with each sale.  Each carbon copy receipt carefully filled out to designate the dealer, amount paid, and item description. Our house sat stacked with boxes of antiques filling the basement, and really wherever there was room. A jukebox sat in the front foyer, and African masks hung on the living room wall next to a collection of Native American arrow heads. The dust bothered by asthma, but my fascination with the old stuff never faded.  I still love the smell as I walk into an antique store.  The slight mustiness, the history of someone else's furniture.  Or maybe its their memories, lingering over their discarded possessions. 

I shopped at the Salvation Army yesterday.  Every once in a while you will find something there that doesn't belong with the rick rack and stretched out sweaters.  An ancient Christmas ornament tucked away with chintzy wall art or old chipped dishes. A milk glass candy dish carelessly stacked with cheap flower vases. I was there to find inexpensive frames to spray paint teal, and I did, but with it I found a memory.  As I scraped the sticker gently off the glass of the frame, I was suddenly transported to one of the many moments I helped my mom prepare her goods for sale.  A quick spray of the Pledge on the sticker.  The oils loosening the stickiness of the price tag.  Softly scraping the sticker away, and cleaning the glass to a perfect shine.  The smell of lemon pledge is like time machine.  The memory warmed my heart and a wave of homesickness and grief washed over me, unanticipated and brief.  In a flash it was gone.  So many times that's how it is these days.  As her laugh has faded to a distant echo.  Her voice lingers in my mind, but I wonder if its the right one.  If it sounds like she did, or only as I remember her.  I suppose it will always this way.  Moments will forever sneak up on me, reminding me of the magnitude of my loss.  But at least now they are brief glimpses of the past instead of days of lingering upset.  It still feels like a punch in the stomach when it happens though, the wind knocked out of me, and I always struggle to catch my breath again, but once I do its like it never happened. 

When I think of everything that's made today I'm saddened by the fact that nothing lasts as long as those old wooden rocking chairs or musty trunks with heavy brass locks.  I'll always cherish the memories of sitting in the back room of an old building eating a plain Hershey bar and wondering at the antiquity of all that surrounded me. 

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