Things fall apart.
I went to the roof yesterday to read (a book of essays by Marion Winik), have a sunset cocktail. To my shock and horror, an old willow loveseat that I’ve had for at least 20 years appeared to be smashed. Had it finally succumbed to the abuse of outdoor life, especially the 9 inches of rain we had ten days ago? Or had someone smashed it? (The roof is more accessible than I’d like and there were some bad neighbors, although I thought they had moved.)
The collapsed/broken/smashed loveseat saddened me. I remember the store where I bought it in, a very progressive place, given the time and location, in Northwest San Antonio. On the same day, I purchased an old pine chest from England, which I use as a coffee table to this day.
In my 20s, I was strangely bourgeois. (This didn’t really change, it’s just not so strange now.) I wanted a “home” — a place where the furniture looked semi-intentional, where some aesthetic was in play, however poor or cliche it might be. The first time I came into a little windfall, I bought a rolltop desk. (Damaged by movers, later deeded to a friend.) As a sophomore in college, I bought a chest of drawers from a moving sale in Chicago and transported it back to my dorm by taxi. On assignment as a reporter in Waco, Texas, I wandered into the antique stores of Central Texas. I still have the table I bought in Rosebud, the Orange Crush thermometer from Gatesville. The first sofa seemed nothing less than a rite of passage, a huge commitment at the age of 24. I held on to it for sixteen years.
I’ve never understood this obsession, this rush to own things. And now that so many of them are gone — given away, sold at my own yard sales, destroyed by the elements — it seems sillier still. Still, no regrets.
A unexpected/forgotten check arrived yesterday — found money if you will. I went and looked at art, primarily Baltimore artists I happen to like. No commitments, but I’m mulling. Maybe that will seem silly, too, in twenty years. But I bet I won’t regret it.
If a check arrived today — enough by your standards to treat yourself, but not so much that you would feel obligated to spend it on bills and serious things, how might you spend it? What objects matter to you? How has that changed in 20 years? Ten? Five?