A strange sense of nostalgia overcame me yesterday, resulting in an urge to go garage sale shopping this summer in the hopes of finding a fantastic old typewriter and a Polaroid camera. Because what better way to write? And perfection in the form of instant photos on a road trip would be the most perfect sort of perfection. These things, like my ward’s Austrian armoire, built in 1846, have such character, character that society’s been gradually replacing with cheap standards and efficiency. It occurred to me that the character of each generation can be seen, heard, felt, in the markings on their tables and the pops in their records, and with a heavy heart, I sighed for the standardized blandness that has taken the place of imperfections which shaped the past. I sighed for the assembly line art that sells the death of a generation’s individuality. How fiercely in need we are of a renaissance! Those old things, this intricately handmade piece of furniture, they make my heart flutter. So I decided to snoop through a piece of an old woman’s history (with permission, of course). The waft of musky air that surprised me when I opened the doors with the slim skeleton key was like the euphoric aroma of an old book. It was the smell of 19th century Europe, the wood shavings on a craftsman’s floor in Vienna. It made me cry. For the way things were, for the way things are, and for the beauty that will be lost to the past, that future generations will never get to enjoy. In the midst of all my musing, as I was running my fingers over the carpenter’s red-painted initials and wondering who he was and if he had a family and if they appreciated his talent and finally picturing them happy around a dinner table he carved with his own bare hands, laughing and loving, what should catch my eye but an old Polaroid, still functioning, with film and all, and I was back in 21st century America, capturing a moment, a feeling, history. His. Hers. Mine. Instant gratification with the flash of a bulb.
As Gertrude Stein wrote, “a rose is a rose is a rose is a rose.” Instead of roses, I hope you all take this long weekend to stop and smell the things we sometimes forget to appreciate. Don’t take the little moments for granted. ♥