Is There Ever Enough Stuff To Go Find?
Stuff with unexpected strings came from a deceased man’s house.
A museum curator reviewed an inventory of stuff in the house and made a small list.
The recent death gave the job a sense of urgency to get in and get out, but also called for more than professional respect for the stuff in the house.
Going in alone takes extra caution.
Over time you develop an eye to improve stuff already in a museum collection.
A house with the same occupant for sixty years could yield many improvements. Regional art on the walls? Local art glass in the windows? Textiles? Hallmarked silver?
The living room held clean, regular stuff, except for an odd residue of smoke. The kitchen the same.
Stuff in both rooms had promise. Once you start finding stuff, you keep opening doors, back doors, closet doors, cupboard doors.
Baking stuff in original packaging was a find. Most people take a bottle of vanilla flavoring and throw the box away. A new bottle in the box from 1940 was a keeper.
A broom with a paper band advertising a local business from the 1950’s was rare.
Common place pieces from another era tell the best story because disposable things that aren’t thrown away are a shock.
Museum Boomer added to the curator’s list.
The thing about deserted house stuff is not knowing where you’ll find it. A Paul Revere spoon might be in the dusty box under a bed. A copy of the Constitution hiding behind a framed painting.
Once you commit to stuff, you look everywhere. You may not find the good stuff, but you don’t want to be the one who missed it. You sort the box, you take the frame apart.
You don’t think about the air in the house, but at some point it’s an issue. Where is that smell coming from?
Museum Boomer opened the bedroom door to scorched walls and crackled furniture, to an unmade bed with blankets burned around a vague outline on the mattress. It was the last mark the former owner made on earth.
Were they smoking in bed and fell asleep?
That view would never be in a museum exhibit, but it was the last string, a sense of mortality connected to the stuff in the house.
The next time you walk through a collectibles shop follow your senses to the objects that catch your attention. For example, your baby boomer eyes fall on an ashtray and you can’t look away.
Is it the material? The shape? The color? There’s always something in stuff that catches us.
It’s up to us to uncover what that might be. Take a deep breath and look around.
That’s when you learn more about who you are.
Be someone who doesn’t smoke, but if you must, don’t smoke in bed.