For the love of poppies, raspberries, and sunshine

A Saturday filled with poppies and raspberries, the essence of a sweet summer. We forgot to lather on sunscreen but our moods lifted from the vitamin D. Surprisingly, we are home made food for every meal even though we were out most of the day. Fried eggs and coffee for breakfast, a BLT and a pure green juice for a picnic lunch amongst the flowers, and a simple rainbow Swiss chard pasta for supper. These are the days I wish to remember.

The messy in between

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.

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.