Tonight’s dinner: grilled chicken with fusilli pasta in a creamy herb sauce.
After a busy workday, I realized that last night and into today marks one month of living in my new apartment. For a small impromptu celebration, I grill chicken and cook pasta. I used my favorite copper pot and blue enamel cast iron. I drink a tinge of wine that I’ve had leftover in my fridge. Fresh flowers in autumn colors are in the middle of my kitchen island. I lit a lit candle. Dishes are in the sink. A blue sky is waiting for me to step out and take an evening stroll.
I haven’t written much about the phase of transition I’ve been living through for the past several months. Outgrowing old things and growing into new. Dreaming of what the future could hold for so long, then actually watching the events happen in front of me. It’s slightly surreal. Moments I’ve dreamed of happening for years are finally starting to become tangible. While I’ve been moving and breathing in the momentum, fixating on the future and occasionally glancing back to see where I’ve been, I have to keep reminding myself to be where my feet are. Be here. In this moment that I find myself in, this moment of transition.
My room is a mess, I have piles of laundry that either need washed or folded. I have a stack of totes with thrifted things waiting for a future apartment kitchen. There are a collection of mugs on my dresser with remnants of coffee still in the bottom that I need to wash. My bed is unmade, and beside me, I have a full to-do list. I have important papers I can’t lose and books piled high that I still have yet to read. There’s no more room on my shelf yet I keep buying more, something is comforting about bring a new book home during a transition phase, finding comfort in the beautiful colors of the cover, the lengthy prose, the hope that one day I’ll be able to soak in all the words, wisdom, and perspective of many other people.
As I write this it is a quarter to 9 am and I have to start work soon, but in these few minutes, before I transition over my thought from this to that, I want to hold this space open. Receive where I was and where I’m headed, but focusing on the now. This messy transition, let it come what may and teach me what it has to know. I cried the other night, not because I’m not grateful, but because the overwhelming sense that life is changing and I’m in the thick of it is just a lot to process all at once while you lay in your bed alone at midnight. It’s okay to be sad sometimes, even when everything is happy. It’s okay to simultaneously miss the way things were when you were 15 but still look so much towards the way things will be when your 30. It’s okay to grieve the past while looking forward to the future. This is what transition looks like, for me. This is the messy in-between.
I step into Emporium 31. Florescent lights light up the interior, a slight smell of old things lingers. Different booths with different themes, most not even having a theme actually. Just a jumbled mess of items waiting to be sifted through. Pieces that the booth owners probably got from actions or estate sells in pallets or collections then setting it up on shelves and bins, waiting for each item to be found by the right person at the right time. Some of the things are vintage and antiques, others are movies from the early 2000s, still, others are toys, clothing, or decor that were once loved but are now out of sight and out of style.
I love going thrifting. When I stroll through a thrift shop, it’s not always aesthetically pleasing, but there is something about it that I want more of. I want to hunt for that item that has been on my list for a while, or maybe stumble across something that I was not expecting. I mainly look for vintage, eclectic items. I know I could just go pick up something similar or a replica of a vintage item at the local Home Goods or Target, but it’s much too satisfying to find the original when you’re hunting through a plethora of things. Finding the item that has already been used and loved at one point in time, and you want to give love back to it. As much as it compliments your story, you are continuing its story.
A lot of the vintage items I find aren’t perfect, but not all things have to be new or perfect to be beautiful. Sometimes things with little scratches, worn spots, or imperfections are the most beautiful because they hold life. They have human stories behind their worn spots and love edges.
I love giving pieces new life, reinventing them to be beautiful within themselves. The other day I was talking through a thrift shop and found a piano — two pianos actually, one black upright piano and one brown spinet. If I had my own space, I would’ve bought one of them then and there. They were both out of tune. The sheet music stand was off of the spinet. They needed to see the light again, given a but of love.
I would’ve loved to know who had these pianos in their houses. What fingers trilled the keys and what songs they played during hot summer days or on Christmas Eve. The wood wasn’t perfect, it has collected a few bruises, but it was once loved. Ending up in a thrift shop might have not been its plan, maybe it thought it would be a family heirloom forever, but this happens to the best of things, sometimes the best of people too.
I wanted to take these pianos home and make them mine, give them a new place where they would’ve been played on the days I find myself longing for a song on the soft keys. Or teach my Love how to play the duet, “Heart and Soul”, with me. But those pianos weren’t meant for me, not right now. Somebody will come along soon and see their bruises, scares, and potential then show them some love. And one day I’ll find the right piano at the right time to do that myself.
I love discovering the stories behind the pieces I thrift. I recently acquired a set of baskets from an auction in Indy that I’m going to resell in a vintage shop I’ve recently started. After picking up the collection and taking it back home for further examination, I found a name printed on a piece of masking tape on the bottom of one of the baskets. Out of curiously and my slight sleuthing tendencies, I Googled the name. What came up was an obituary for a woman who passed away last year that lived in the area where the auction took place. She worked with children who had disabilities. She was an artist who loved pottery and baskets. She was once apart of a band where she played the dulcimer that she built herself. I looked up from my phone and to the baskets that sat on the floor. With a slight chance that they weren’t, I was holding this woman’s baskets. Her collection of beloved things she left behind. One of the baskets even looked handmade, and I wonder if she was the one who made it with her own two hands. Some people might find this odd but I’m enthralled. And I’m determined to continue these piece’s lives and add on to their rich stories.
A lot of people that I’ve sold things to tell me that they already had an attachment to the item they’re buying or they’re excited to use it because of a significant reason. A set of glasses are ones like their grandma used to have. The salt and pepper shakers match a tea set they thrifted last week. A set of bowls to go with a big set of plates of the same design that their mom gave them. The sugar and cream set will be their friend’s birthday present and they know she’ll love it. I love being apart of these stories. I love being apart of the reinvention process, continuing life to vintage pieces that will bring even a little bit of joy to someone’s life. And also being connected to the lives that these objects once belonged to. Objects and things aren’t our saviors or of absolute need, but they collect unique histories. Histories of the humans who once held them cherished them, or loathed them, humans with names and stories of their own. To me, being connected to the stories behind the pieces is more valuable than the piece itself. They are thrifted stories of the heart.
Originally published in my newsletter, Narratives. Sign up for the newsletter, here.
Today is the winter solace. The longest day of the year. The mark of winter. This morning I lit a small tea candle in a jar of water to celebrate that we made it through the night of the year where the darkest lingers around the most. That’s something, especially for 2020.
It’s probably just me that’s now noticing this, but we celebrate the time of light amid the darkest time of the year. When the days are the shortest, when the nights are the longest, we decorate our houses with lights, hang up decorative trees, and light candles that cast long shadows. We bake for celebration, cookies and warm soups, bread and pastries. We cozy up by fires. Some of us bundle up in sweatshirts and coats to walk through the cold and sometimes snow to attend festivals of lights. Some of us celebrate the birth of when the One, True light was born upon the earth. Because even in darkness, with the long shadows cast over the ground throughout the day, light penetrates through. Light overcomes. It takes only a little bit of warm glow to penetrate and brighten a whole room of darkness.
Just like it only took a little baby of light to penetrate through a blackened world.
All of this brings me to the thought of this year and its peculiarities and also the upcoming year.
2020 hasn’t been isn’t the only time where the world felt an unusual heaviness. It hasn’t been the only time we have experienced darkness and sick and other undesirable things. This isn’t the only time and it won’t be the last. But even so, I strive to celebrate the light, hope, and joy that comes with this year and the new one to come. 2021 brings just as many uncertainties as it does hope. The type of hope and joy that aren’t present on their own, but coexist with fear and pain. The joy and hope that happens despite that hard times.
As I celebrate Christmas, the celebration of light in darkness, and the birth of a new year, the hope and joy of what is to come, I hope to remember this year for what it was. Not as one that I never want to remember, but one that I made it through clumsily enough, the one where I found love, hope, and joy in the small things right under my nose. The one where I lit a candle with lingering shadows.
One year ago today, I met this wonderful person at a Mexican restaurant downtown during a holiday work lunch. Little did we know, we’d have our first date at Coat Check Coffee a little less than a month later. Our second date was a museum and dinner, our third we went swing dancing, and the rest would be history. When the pandemic came, and we spent 40 days quarantined apart from each other. But we came back stronger and I’m ever grateful for it. It will always be apart of our story. What a year 2020 has been, it has been my favorite. Love is weird and wonderful that way.