Thrifted stories of the heart

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.

Come the Soft Voices

Come the Soft Voices

I’ve always been soft-spoken. When I speak, my voice is audibly quiet. I’ve been told it’s like a whisper sometimes. It’s surprising because most of my family is very loud. I’m used to it by now,  I roll with it. I dub myself the listener. In large groups, I love taking account of what others have to say, I sparsely comment myself. Often times, I’m okay with it. 

I’ll be real and honest here though, sometimes I just feel like I’m drowning with the soft voice I have amongst all the loud ones that take up so much prominence in this world. 

Just because my voice is soft, doesn’t mean I don’t have words to say. 

In college I would always be told to speak up, I would lose points for listening during a discussion instead of loudly shouting my opinion out above the others in the class. The times I did speak up, I either wasn’t heard, having to repeat myself over and over again or raise my hand to show people I was speaking, or I was met with hostile ears that would completely negate my opinion and viewpoints. One time I was even called a hypocrite for my viewpoint on a simple children’s book. This happened in multiple classes. My soft voice with its opinions wasn’t welcome.  They wanted me to use my voice to agree with the them and them only, not speak for myself. 

By my senior year, there would be times I would intentionally not say anything. If they were going to meet my viewpoints with hostility, and only listen to what they agreed with, then I was bound to be silent. My silence was loud, I stood out because I was the only person in the room who didn’t saying anything. Looking back on it, I’m not sure that was the right approach to the situation. Some may have label me a bad student, but in my mind was intent on standing my ground as a silent person. 

Just shy of two years out of college, I’ve begun to realize just because I have a quiet voice, doesn’t condemn me having to be a silent person forever. 

Although I do think I made a point in being quiet during the class by letting my silence be loud, I’ve let that come with me into the rest of my life. I don’t always want to be a silent person. I want to speak even if the world isn’t listening or doesn’t agree with me. 

Everyone can agree that this day in age is full of noise, and the loudest get the most attention. With the riots, tyrant social posts, and non-stop news feeds with bold headlines, it seems like the world only makes room for the blaring, strongly opinionated, and loud voice. People will only listen to the voices that tower above the rest, and it’s a fight to get there. It is intimidating. 

But I don’t think the loud voices aren’t the only important voices in the world. There is a place for soft voices too. I’ve been searching for where that place is, but I know there is a place for them. 

The quiet ones speak softly, shaking, a murmur under the noise. They are only there when you calm down and listen for it. 

Along with having a soft voice, I notice I water down the voice I have to accommodate what I think people want to hear. But I’m determined to take back my language. Not being afraid to make mistakes and being corrected in a beautiful way, but also taking into account that I’m not going to please everyone. 

Maybe it’s time we say come the soft voice, come the quiet speakers, and ready listeners. Keep talking, keep speaking, keep using your voice no matter how much of a whisper it comes out.  It’s time you speak what you have to say, to whoever is ready to listen, to those who agree and disagree with you, or maybe even if no one is listening all. Speak away. 

Staying Home, No. 3

I’ve been going on long walks every evening this past week, coffee or tea in hand. They have been my therapy. When you step away from the constant news stream, you see how life is still going on. The planet is still revolving, the trees are still blooming, storms are still brewing, you are still breathing. Life has not been canceled or postponed.


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But on a Wednesday, in a cafe, I watched it begin again. ~ Taylor Swift

Newness, fresh starts, endings turning into blooming beginnings. I could fill this whole page with métaphores and quotes about beginning again. But all I really need to say is that this ginger latte looks just as it tasted—amazingly delicious.

How as the start of 2020 been for you?

Autumn and Coffee and Books

Autumn and Coffee and Books

When I woke up early this morning, there was something different in the air. Maybe it was the fact that over the past week the temperature has dropped several degrees outside and the crips nature of autumn is starting to caress my windows, or maybe it is the strong pumpkin rum candle, the one that I can smell the heavenly scent of throughout the house, even if it’s not lit. 

No matter what it is, I can definitely tell that summer is coming to a close and fall is slipping around the corner.

The other day when I was heading out to my car, I looked down and there were a few leaves, dried and a brittle yellow. Although the majority of the leaves are still clinging to the branches, a vibrant green, within the next month they will be fading as they shout their last hoorah for the end of this decade.

The tree that is out in my front yard is huge and every year I get excited for its change from green to gold. The first year we spent fall here, I had my mom’s orignial Polaroid Spirit 600 that we found film for. I took it everywhere, including down the street where I catpured a picture of the tree in it’s radiant bloom. This little memory is kept forever in the squared-off corners of a piece of film. Although the same phenomenon is bound to return year after year, I have the picture to look at whenever I want to be reminded of it.

Even though fall is almost here, I’ve been trying to pay respects to the last of summer that’s not quite done yet. I picked seven tomatoes off my overly large tomato plant yesterday. I’m excited to get to try out a recipe where I’ll get to use them. Most of the time I just throw whatever I have in the pantry together–pasta, spinach, the garden tomatoes, cheese, and maybe a tad of salt and paper– and eat it like a smorgasbord of whatever sounds good at the time.

Lately, I’ve been working on an article for a magazine I’m freelancing for about specialty fall coffee in my neighborhood. Just on the Southside of Indianapolis alone, there are over ten local coffee shops. Tuesday, I went to six coffee shops in the Greenwood area. Each had it’s own aesthetic, distinguishing itself with key features, even though they all serve a similar purpose: to proved caffeine, drinks, and a place to cultivate community, even if it’s only a handful of strangers.

I love the spirit of coffee shops for this reason, not because they’re hip and cool nowadays, but because they’re spaces for communal existence, work, and to get to know people you otherwise wouldn’t have met.

I’ve met so many of the people in my life, that I wouldn’t have met in any other way, through coffee shops. Bookstores, too. I’ll have to write a whole essay about that sometime. Neadless to say, I’ve been enjoying my work lately, finding real fulfillment in it.

Another new thing: It’s the first of September and I’m taking a detox from social media. Namely, Instagram. September is the start of fall, my favorite season. And in honor of new seasons, I thought that taking a break from the scrolling and liking and constant connection would give me a nice breather. Instead, I’ll take stock of the what this year has so far gifted me. What the rest of this chapter, and the next, will hold. This year is the end of a decade, and next year is the start of a new one.

I deleted the app this morning, and so far I have picked up my phone about ten times and slid past pages of apps until I reached where Instagram used to be. When I don’t find it, it feels refreshing. I can regain control and focus on what I’m dedicating this month too.

While I’m taking this next month off of social media. I hope it’ll give me more time to finish a few books I’ve been flipping through but haven’t finished yet. The first one is When in French, by Lauren Collins and the second one is Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, by Barbara Kingsolver. Fiction is definietly a love of mine, but I’ve been attracted to narrative non-fiction lately, it’s what I’ve been craving to write, too.

How about you? What are you planning for the start of fall? Are you reading anything interesting?

P.S. more thoughts about redefining my relationship with social media.