While I was pregnant, my aunt helped me with some (a lot of) reorganization of my life. We cleared out the room that would be the nursery, we organized my basement, we rearranged a lot and started getting rid of things I don’t need. There’s still a ways to go, and as I come out from the haze that is the first year of motherhood, I’m ready to get back to it.
One of the items that I had sitting in my house was an antique desk. It was my mother’s desk in name, if not possession. We were storing it for her because there wasn’t space in her house. But after several years of it getting moved around my house to the least inconvenient spot, it just became…too inconvenient. So I called her up and asked, if she still wanted it. “Yes. Of course. It was my father’s desk. It’s over 100 years old.”
“Okay, well, then it needs to come back to your house or it’s going in my basement,” I informed her.
Her response was less than receptive. An unfinished basement is not the place for antique wood. It’ll get destroyed, she explained. I rebutted by telling her that I didn’t have room for it. I needed space for baby cages (playpens, pack n plays, swings, baby containers basically) and toys and other essentials. As the resident family collector, if I didn’t want it, no one would.
“Let me call you back,” she said.
Two weeks later, she finally got back to me about the desk. “You really don’t want it?”
“Your brother and sister aren’t going to want it.”
“Okay. Why don’t you see if your aunt wants it.”
“She will, but she’s totally going to paint it.”
“I know. But at least it will be used and loved.”
And so, I passed the desk on to my aunt, who had a great time painting and distressing it to fit her style and needs. And she is still using it much better than I ever could.
I’ve recently fallen down a strange rabbit hole of vintage toys lately, having resumed the aforementioned decluttering and reorganization of my life. I started looking at the old toys I’ve saved — primarily my Barbie collection with a few stragglers of other toys and dolls that made it through years of play followed by years of storage and shuffling. Not only did I finally realize that teenage me save a bunch of mostly worthless but sentimental crap (Yes, Couch III,
Antiques are selling for next to nothing, vintage toys and games are practically worthless (I’m looking at you 90’s Ty Beanie Baby collection). Sure, there are markets for a lot of these things *somewhere* but that somewhere isn’t easy to find. Especially when people are selling theirs for next to nothing. What IS easy to find includes bags, blankets, and baby clothes that sold out in a day last week, and are now listed on resale sites like Poshmark, Mercari, and ebay, for 5-10 times their original price.
We live in a strange new world where the newest, latest, shortest release items are coveted and items with history and nostalgia are dated, musty, and not worth the cost to store them. I’m sure this is a timeless tradition of consumerism, and in reality, that Ty Beanie Baby collection was only a brief story on this weird journey, right up there with the Cabbage Patch Dolls of 1982.
I don’t know where this is going, but I kind of wonder where we’re going as consumers and collectors. What antiques or vintage items are you still hanging on to? Are you a collector, or are you the type to purge it all without a second thought, or are you somewhere in the middle?
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