Thursday, September 24, 2009

One Man's Trash . . .

Today I spent a couple of hours browsing through a large flea market on Highway 49. I don't know why this is enjoyable to me, but it is. Part of the fun is the anticipation of finding a treasure that (hopefully) doesn't cost much money. It's people's old stuff, so I'm also contributing to the big global push to "reuse," which is nice. However, sometimes the older the stuff is, the more it costs. Or the more it's worth, I guess I should say.

I think that even more fun to me than the idea of finding a treasure at these second-hand places is the idea that I am not just browsing through other people's stuff; I am browsing through other people's stories. I think it is so interesting to imagine which little girl first played with the antique doll, what family sat around the giant oak table and discussed their days, what woman donned the mustard-colored hat with the black netting, whose baby slept in the old wooden cradle, who might have sat in the tattered yet still regal-looking arm chair, who actually listened to all those records, who dined on the once-shiny but now tarnished fine china, or how many people have studied their reflections in these mirrors. Of course, there is also more than a fair share of items that make you ask, "Really? Someone thought it was a good idea to buy this even when it was new?!" But those items have lots of stories behind them, too. Maybe even more.

In my opinion, it's much more interesting to shop in second-hand stores than in stores with all new stuff, although there is most certainly a time and place (and reason!) for that, too. But I somehow feel inspired by all the things and their history as well as feel connected to the people who once owned it all. And I didn't even buy anything.

1 comment:

laurie said...

This post made me smile - partly because of your environmental mindfulness, but more because I totally know and love the feeling of story and history that you're talking about.

I often feel like a mindless (or brainwashed), soul-less rat in a maze when I shop for new things. There's something in second hand shopping (or buying things and food directly from the maker or grower) that makes me feel connected to others and thus human.