When I go to the thrift store (the one full of furniture), I’m always scouting for bigger things: mirrors, coffee tables, a steal on a cast iron skillet (though I don’t need one more).
But today I pulled open all the little drawers, lifted lids on all the little boxes: an old shaving kit, nail polishes nested in pale blue satin alongside small curved scissors that rested in a satin holster, crimping hair clips for that flapper look, eyelash curlers (the threshold of womanhood), miscellaneous sunglasses, rubber band-bound sets of shower curtain rings.
And I ran my eyes across the books, hungry for browsing after nine months without a library visit. I found Annie Dillard (who has made me both snort and gasp in awe and agreement this evening, on topics ranging from weasels, to God, to Protestant guitars, to Arctic explorers dying grizzly, foolish, noble deaths). I flipped through a dictionary of quotations, considered a book on how to grow flowers (even though, like Arctic exploration, I’m pretty sure that’s all on faith). I wondered if I should buy a book I’d already read just to give it away (“Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand”), or replace Ennis’s outgrown copy of “Ten Little Ladybugs.”
Dreaming of what I could love used to alarm me. It was too draining to consider a possibility that I wasn’t ready to commit to. Once, we looked at a gutted Airstream, made plans to renovate it, and then instead got a ’75 Winnebago: I had whiplash and stood there like a dog trying to get water out of its ears before I could change directions, pull my soul back out of that silver hull where all my imagining had started to play house, and redirect it to this new entertainment.
Dreaming might take just as much energy as before. Maybe I’ve got more of it to spend, or more elasticity, or I’ve simply learned how to play out the kite string and dance with the wind so that the swoops and dives and gusts are a sort of delightful carnival ride rather than the lurches of a rickety bus cornering hard on a mountain pass: sure signs of my impending death.
I came home with a few things, tangible as well as hopeful. I asked questions, thought more thoughts and wished more wishes.
And then I stretched out on the floor and read Annie Dillard and laughed and gasped and cried– all for fifty cents.