Thrift Store Mystic

Ah, thrift stores....  repositories of junk and dust and memories.  I usually pop into our local one at least once a week, between grabbing groceries and picking up the kids, and spend a happy forty-five minutes scouring the detritus of people's lives. There is a very particular smell in there, of stale air and loneliness and mildew. Not the loneliness of people necessarily. but the loneliness of things. Things that have been abandoned for years at the back of cupboards, and in boxes, and on shelves. Old coffee makers, and orphan tea cups, and fraying handbags, and shoes that have walked the world. Books that haven't stretched their spines in years.

I know the store well, from the cheery English woman at the back who spends her time issuing commands to the volunteers like some sort of cobwebbed sergeant major, to the labyrinthine layout. I always start with the china and glass, then move through books, clothing, handbags and jewelry. I perambulate. I  browse and mooch. Its like game-spotting. Waiting for the leopard to make itself visible amongst the trees. Some days I am unlucky: The store is a simply a junkyard. But on most occasion the magic happens. I feel a murmuring against my heart,  a draw, and something catches my eye, a lovely shaped silverplate jug, for instance, in amongst a huddle of cheap china. I pick it up, I hold it, enjoy its weight, admire the craftsmanship of the repoussé flowers hammered into both sides. Its beauty is almost visceral; a palpable thing. I buy the jug. I buy a coffee pot too, the pattern strewn with pink dianthus, the raised rose on the lid almost perfect. Herend, I know from the mark, and despite the several large inner chips where the lid fits into the pot, and an unsightly repair to the spout, it does not belong here. "Take me home," it seems to beg in haughty Hungarian tones. How can I resist?

At home, I clean the creamer with a silver cloth. It was made, I realize by WMF in Germany around 1903. WMF (WURTTEMBERGISCHE METALLWARENFABRIK) was founded in the mid 1800's and quickly became renown for the quality and beauty of their products, with its early pieces now highly collectable. (If you are interested in reading more about the company please click here.)

 I will probably sell the jug but for the moment it is mine. For a while it will live in my house. It will be privy to the predicable triumphs and disasters of family life, to the laughter and love and noise and barking, and then one day it will move on... to another owner whose identity is still a mystery. An owner who does not yet know what lies ahead for his or her heart.I hold the jug up to my ear."Go on. Tell me your story," I whisper.... but all I can hear are the waves and the memory of a long ago journey over the sea.

Copyright Sam Grieve 2018

(Simultaneously published on my writing website ) 

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