Recently I met a friend for lunch (I was being treated) and antiquing. We used to joke about trying to buy back our childhoods, calling out to one another, “We had one of these!” as we wandered down the aisles of antique shops.
I put a $5 bill in my purse before leaving home, telling myself I could buy something small if I found it. I was very drawn to a $3.00 embroidered towel—I’m always drawn to old linens—and I nearly bought a $2.00 pair of vintage earrings.
“No,” my friend said. “They make you look matronly.”
“I am matronly,” I responded, but of course no woman wants to evoke that image, so I put the earrings back in the jewelry box.
We’d hit two of the three antique stores when we stopped at an old-fashioned soda fountain. There I spent $3.00 on a real milkshake, the kind the waitress brings in a glass, with the rest of the treat waiting in a frosty metal shaker. In the third antique place, I sighed over incredibly beautiful embroidered pillowcases. I have a few from my grandmother; these were more than $20.00 for a pair. The space in which they were displayed was beautifully arranged—if I were wealthy, I’d have bought the whole thing.
And that was that. I spent $3.00 on empty calories that tasted good and cooled me off a warm day. I saw many lovely things I don’t really need or have room to show off or store. I didn’t look too carefully at the LPDs, my usual downfall—little pretty dishes, usually handpainted china. I already have a ridiculous number of plates.
The thing is, I didn’t feel deprived. A sales clerk in one of the shops referred to it as the ultimate recycling place, and my friend said, “Nothing gets thrown out!” It was in some respects like visiting a museum; I knew I wouldn’t buy a Monet or a Rothko, but I could still enjoy the beauty. I’m sure that my wanting/buying impulse isn’t dead, but for that day at least, it took a vacation, and I came home with almost half of the money I had taken. That feels like progress.