I hate it when I buy clothes that I don’t wear, or even let food go bad before eating it. I dislike wasting. And yet, I love surrounding myself with objects that make my my eyes smile. I enjoy acquiring treasures.
In many ways the blogging culture that has erupted encourages consumerism. It’s like everyone is advertising for everyone else. Or promoting the idea of a perfect life, which includes (in the ones I drool over, anyhow) ultra-modern living spaces, perfectly painted and unblemished walls, flowers blooming all the time, etc. Yes, there are a lot of diy blogs out there, but I think a big segment of the readership of crafter blogs (a category this blog fits in to some degree) don’t ever do it themselves. They are diy enthusiasts, not diyers (not that there’s anything wrong with diy voyeurism, mind you). There is a lot of want. Thing envy. Or doer envy. Myself included.
When I think about how much trash is collected in NYC—11,000 tons of residential garbage daily, or 3.3 million tons annually—I am overwhelmed with feelings of hopelessness. (I try not to think about it to much.)
One of the reasons I like vintage clothing and furniture so much goes beyond the way it looks (though I do love a sleek mid-century sofa and all the Mad Men bar carts I’m seeing lately). I perceive vintage as unique. When I find that special piece to go in my living room or a dress from the 1960s that fits perfectly, my brain tells me it is meant to be mine. That treasure found me somehow.
But another part of the appeal is that I’m not buying something new. It wasn’t manufactured in China and shipped in a container to the US, then loaded on a train and then a truck to a showroom, where I pay for it on plastic and load it into my car for its penultimate journey to my home. (We all know its final resting spot will eventually be in a landfill with those other millions of tons of discarded items.) Vintage furniture was loved once already. It had a life. When I buy something already used, I’m giving it a second chance. Without any guilt on my part.
As i let the idea of being a nomad settle on my brain—we can’t seem to stay in one place, or maybe we’re just not trying that hard to commit calling one locale “home”—I also accept the dissonance of loving beautiful things and hating schlepping them from one place to the next. Or worse yet, throwing them out.
After spending a month away from home, all this stuff I came home to felt like a burden. I have a need to purge my life of the unnecessary things. I regularly clean out the closets, and would never consider myself a hoarder. But I still have Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason on my bookshelf. Since college. The days of studying philosophy are further behind me than I like to admit, and I haven’t cracked any of these heavy thinkers’ tomes in more that a decade.
So here I go, banishing the unnecessary, the extraneous from my life. The donation pile is growing. I hope some person finds my once-loved treasures at Salvation Army and thinks, this was meant for me.