Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Treasure Trove

I went for a walk in town today just to get out of the house and enjoy the fresh air. First stop was the thrift store that is literally a block from my apartment. It is a wonder that I don't go there everyday, but my self-control isn't great in thrift stores, so I try and limit my visits, especially since I recently made the executive decision to not start saving for retirement, nay, but to start saving for every trip I want to take ever, which is basically see the whole world. What this means is I can't fritter away money on books and home decor every other Tuesday anymore.
Today's finds included some vintage treasures for my etsy shop, a scarf for my hair as I am growing it out and not loving the stage it's at, and a cotton old lady house robe complete with embroidered flowers because I legitimately have been needing one (the only robe I own is very thick fleece with a hood and I do so enjoy lounging in a robe for hours on end and not getting dressed until it is an utter necessity). All of this for $4.24 because turns out the robe was half off today, so, yeah I shouldn't be spending money, but c'mon. C'mon. What a steal.
Then I made the mistake of popping into the beyond darling bookstore in town, Prospero's Books, which again I avoid like the plague as I mentioned before, books and home decor have a way of finding themselves in my hands against my better judgement. But you see, the bookstore was undergoing some construction for the past few months and now that the construction was complete, I felt I owed it to myself to see what had changed. I made a mental note not to let my eyes latch onto any one title or promising book, but to just walk through and do a general once-over, simply getting the feel and ambiance of the stacks and rows of old books.
I was almost through the whole bookstore, having wove to the back and this way and that, making my way to the front when I saw what looked like a stand of cards.
I love cards and just needed a quick peek. It wouldn't hurt to support this darling local bookman with a $3 card I thought. The cards turned out to be old Civil War postcards, which, while neat, I had no interest in the scary soldiers somber faces staring back at me from my fridge were I to purchase one.
Then from the corner of my eye I spotted what looked like rare and old editions of childrens books. Uh-oh. I could feel myself being pulled as though on one of those people-movers at the airport. And suddenly, there I was oggling the display of antique, colorful, and beautiful books. Calmly, I thought, it's okay. All this stuff looks really old so I am sure the prices are far beyond what I'd be willing to spend, so it's okay to just appreciate.
I picked up a card, laid against cardboard and covered in protective plastic that had a silly poem on it. I turned over the card and it said 1918, $5.00
$5.00 for a clever poem from 1918? It's almost like I am making out like a bandit, I thought. Does this sweet old man know he is under-valuing his merchandise? This poem is almost a hundred years old. I have to buy it. I mean I just have to.

I should've walked away at this point with my hundred-year old poem on villains, but of course I didn't. Now it was like I was drugged. I felt I had found some sort of mini miracle, with a $5.00 ancient poem, and I wanted to now know if I could find more. I picked up a miniature volume of Alice in Wonderland and opened the cover, feeling hopeful: $2. Oh my heavens! I stacked it on top of the poem and searched for more, even though a small voice inside was insistent that I didn't need a funny poem or Alice in Wonderland, I needed trips to Switzerland and the Badlands.
But of course the artist voice was squelching the reasonable voice, with insistence that of course I needed a miniature copy of Alice in Wonderland as I wasn't even certain I owned a normal sized copy of this iconic book, so that was a done deal, and then the villain poem was witty and it was a poem and it survived a hundred years, so that was a given. Plus I could always sell it, as it was clearly worth more than $5, although already I could feel myself forming an attachment to this silly poem and picturing framing it and putting it in my future child's bedroom.
I have a heinous attachment to things and not in the material way like I crave new Gucci bags and chandeliers, but in the way like I am an adventurer and am collecting my treasures, as every purchase I make I can tell you has some sort of story and significance to my life. Like this poem is a part of the human language and language speaks to me, or old trunks that I imagine survived the Titanic and now probably haunt my apartment with their lingering spirits, but it's totally worth it, as they are enriching my life and my home, because if I am not seafaring at the moment or in Italy at least my home looks as if I am. They are treasures, don't you see!
Then I saw out of the corner of my eye on a bright red children's book covered in jungle animals, the name Kipling. My heart stopped. No. It couldn't be. I pulled the book all the way out and saw, sure enough, the book was penned by none other than Rudyard.
His poetry is tattooed on my arm! Oh no. I could feel myself coveting this book something fierce. I had no idea he wrote children's books. I flipped open the cover to pray that it wasn't $45 or more. It was $6. Okay this was madness! Madness! How were all these treasure so cheap? Though they were now adding up to more than I wanted to spend today I could feel myself trying to rationalize to put something down, maybe Alice in Wonderland or the poem as I clearly couldn't give up Rudyard now. But my fingers wouldn't unlatch any of the finds, in fact the same pull I felt toward the case, I now felt toward the cash register, while the feeble attempts of my rational mind were drowned out with my need for classic literature at an unbeatable price.
There was no stopping me.
And the best part. The sweet old man behind the register investigated each piece with as much love and attention as I had, reading the poem aloud, and nodding his head like he got it. He told me he read Alice in Wonderland with his book club and what fun that was. Then he spotted Kipling and said, "ah, Kipling, yes."
My stomach got nervous like all the prices were wrong and when he told me the total it would really be close to $100 instead of $13. No. All the prices were right.
He asked if this was for a child's room. I sheepishly shook my head and said, "no, all for me." He smiled again like he completely understood.

"You have good taste."

I beamed. I do, sir. I really know that I do, I thought smugly, but extra pleased that he could see it too.

I left the bookstore surmising that was almost $20 that could've been in my travel fund, but so happy with my finds that I couldn't be truly upset. Besides then I spotted his sign out front that I hadn't seen on my way in.

I just purchased food for the mind and what could be more priceless than that? I dare say I haven't a clue.

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