I should be going to bed - I know that. But, instead I have words that are just pleading to come out of my heart and onto a screen. I’m sitting here in the darkened kitchen of my community house - this room won’t be used anymore this night. My soul longs to be here tonight however, ignoring my body’s call to snuggle under my blankets. The reason why is a result of a couple of simple items sitting in a plastic white dish drainer, letting the air eliminate any of the rinse water that is left on them. These items were purchased in the past couple of weeks from yard sales and estate sales; they were sitting in my room waiting to be dragged upstairs to the kitchen and be given new life.
They are now sitting there clean after a couple hours of work, while I am tired, wearing an over-sized men’s T-shirt that still has a band of water across my stomach from leaning against the sink, leggings, and a polka dotted head scarf. Whoever thinks that thrifting is this glamorous, easy, Macklemore filled pastime, needs to get their head out of a Plato’s Closet. Thrifting, like any passion in life, is hard, sweaty, and frustrating at times. But dammit, that is why I love it.
I don’t mind the dishwater hands because it means that the decorative 1960’s cutting board that proudly states “Food should be cooked with butter and love” is clean. The dust has been removed, very carefully as to not remove the 50 year old paint. I think about where this cutsey kitchen decoration came from - an estate sale where I literally had to stop myself from buying everything, because I’m pretty sure this little old lady and I are style soul sisters. One of the workers told me that they were moving because she had cancer. I think about her and her family’s hard time and sadness.
This snarky cutting board sits next to a metal cone sieve - something that I has been on my Thrift Hunt List for quite some time. I think about what they both stand for: they remind me of home - of growing up in Pennsylvania Dutch culture in Central PA. Of my childhood. Of my grandmother’s kitchen.The sieve reminds me of standing on a stool next to my mother, using the wooden turner to squish the hot apples placed inside and be amazed at the pink applesauce that was being oozed into a yellow Pyrex dish. However, the specific sieve of those memories is over 700 miles away in a cupboard in Pennsylvania. This sieve - my sieve - the one that I cringed at as I washed out the dead bugs that were chilling at the bottom, making sure that I scrubbed really hard to get clean, this one is just waiting for some new memories.
The sieve and the three yellow Melmac mixing bowls took the most time to clean, so they provided plenty of time to think about life. As I scrubbed each plastic bowl, making sure to get every nook around the handle spotless and putting in more elbow grease to get the address label removed of its previous owner, I think about their upcoming adventure. After they dry, they will be packed away. A new address label cannot be stuck on because their new home has not been decided yet (also because those stickers are a bitch to get off). After a couple of weeks, they will be placed into a car and travel to a new land called Pittsburgh. They will be added along many similar plastic vintage dishware that has been collected over the years. Will they stand out because of the hour I spent cleaning them, making sure that they were as perfect as something with a past can be? Will they get used any more than the others because of that time put in to give them new life? I can’t answer that. However, I do know they will stand out for quite some time because of the hope that they gave me. I do not know the address of where they will land up. But, I can imagine it. Not what it looks like, but the feeling that it gives me. The feeling of home. I can imagine this feeling resulting in 12:00 a.m. brownie baking with the love of my life, where more batter ends up on the floor, our faces, and on the outside of these yellow plastic bowls than actually in a pan. I imagine the bowl with the chip around the rim, being sanded down, filled with pretzels to snack on, and then moved to the floor to prevent being knocked over by the intense game of Dutch Blitz going on with friends - new or old - that results in many screams, laughs, cussing, and maybe a few bitter neighbors. I imagine the smallest bowl being filled with leftovers and covered with aluminum foiled and given to my mom and dad to snack on as they make the four drive home with promises to get it back when I am back in my hometown in the coming weeks for some various family celebration.
These things aren’t important because of what they are - do I need them? Not really. Could I live without them? Probably. But like many of the secondhand things that I discover and purchase, they are unique. They have a past that I don’t know too much about beside what I can imagine. They are not perfect and may show that they have been used for 30, 40, 50+ years. However, they have quality and durability that cannot be beat. They help me remember that my life will not always be perfect - in fact, having these things in my life will not make it more perfect in any way. It is how I use these items that counts: to create a life that is not perfect, but more sustainable, open to hospitality and fellowship, remembers the history of people and things that I encounter, and one that is full of stories of the past, to teach the present on how to make a better future.