I'm not talking about love or world peace or the end of poverty here. I'm talking about material objects. Sorry about that.
I've always been deeply connected to Things. As far back as I can remember I coveted and adored and treasured our family's heirlooms, my friend's knick knacks, and neighborhood stores wares. As young as 8, I was rearranging my bedroom every six months to try out new configurations for my furniture and decor. On a trip to Spain my mother and I made a concerted effort to find "Doo-Dad" shops in the narrow cobbled streets of the highly fortressed city of Toledo. In my 20's I spent a goodly amount of time rescuing things from the side of the road and dumpsters, as well as in Salvation Armys and the like. Get it? I LOVE STUFF (I also love to get rid of stuff, so don't worry about me please. I routinely purge my house, donate items, and deciminate to likely friend adopters).
Okay so: M and Z and I recently went up into Maine to visit friends who had rented a house there for the month of July. Katherine, our hostess, knowing my love of scavenging, took me to a place called Big Chicken Barn; Books & Antiques. It was easily the biggest antique mall I've been too. See?
That's huge, right?
The bottom floor was room upon room of antiques and the second floor was a book store.
The book store had a section for every subject under the sun. Paranormal Romance your thing? Got it. Need some Circus books? Ding! Disappointingly, the only subject not cataloged was Whaling, an obvious and necessary sub-section to any good Boating shelf. Sigh. I am so lonely.
Anyway, on the antique floor I found several pieces that were thought provoking in an A-Frame kind of way. Could we get away with having a wicker elephant stand with detachable tray somewhere on our porch?
I decided against it, but only for budgetary reasons. Spray painted turquoise I think that thing would rock.
I should say here that I am not actually into antiques any more. Like, antique antiques. Junk? Yes. Thrift? Yes. Weird old stuff? Yes. But the ubiqutious ornate glass and heavy pottery containers don't do it for me anymore. I'm kind of over ornate. So it's hard to really capture my attention in an antique store anymore. And then my heart stopped:
I don't want to hear about it if you don't get these.
I had had the idea that I wanted to have a small collection of wool blankets for the A-Frame. They are campy, they are warm, they are slightly uncomfortable but in a It's-Good-For-You kind of way, like eating muesli. I was thinking I'd just get some cheap army/navy store ones, most likely gray with maybe a stripe of red or something.
My heart racing, I touched these creamy pink pieces of delight and surely made embarrassing noises as I realized that they were perfect. I smelled them while trying to decide how bad they'd have to smell for me to not want them. They didn't smell at all. They were $40 each; just enough that I couldn't just buy them without thinking, just enough that I felt like I could afford to buy them. I stared and stood still and tried to calm the fuck down. I am old enough and I have wasted enough money to know that when I feel the way those blankets made me feel I need to drop everything and take some mental and physical distance so that I can make a rational and wallet-friendly decision about purchasing.
What did I love about them so much? I'd never seen anything like them before. I'm really into pink lately. The combination of scratchy and girly gives me great joy.
And then I did something weird. I decided not to buy them. I knew that Matthew wouldn't get them. He would trust me, but he wouldn't get them and I would have just spent $80 on something inconsequential to the A-Frame (we are in painting large sections of ceiling and buying a propane refrigerator mode, so things like blankets are not even on the radar yet). I also knew that I would find blankets that would make me happy someday at a more appropriate time, whether they would make me as psychotically happy as these blankets I did not know, but I took my chances.
We left Maine with full stomachs, new knowledge about Aga cookstoves, and an appreciation for watching scary movies about people alone in a secluded house while alone in a secluded house. But I left with a heavy heart, knowing that my blankets would be staying in Maine.
Weeks went by and I still thought about those dang blankets. As the A-Frame came together and things were painted and a mattress was purchased, I mentally kicked myself for being so rational at the Big Chicken Barn. I could see where they belonged perfectly, at the end of the bed in the main bedroom, bathed in the setting sunlight. I thought about braving the world of ebay to find their equivalents, a world I fear and loathe. I thought about calling Katherine and asking her to make the half an hour drive to the Barn. I thought about emailing Katherine and asking her to make the half an hour drive to the barn. I didn't do any of those things.
Katherine and her family eventually came back to Western Mass. to finish out their summer. Their first weekend back they invited us over for dinner, like they always do, and we happliy made our way over, anticipating what is always a good time. When I walked in the door I was surprised to see unexpected friends and was distracted by the many children underfoot, so I did not immediately notice the wool blankets wrapped in ribbon sitting on the dining room table. And then I did.
I gasped, my hands came up to my gaping mouth, I think I squealed. For the rest of the night in the midst of good conversation and food eating and Manhattan drinking I would remember intermittently that my blankets had made their way to me and my chest would inflate a little. I'm not sure Katherine knew just how happy she had made me, but hopefully she does now.