Perhaps as I am headed towards a significant birthday, I’ve recently been admiring many things of yesteryear. There’s something so fun and creative in all things retro. This week I headed out to some op-shops with a few girlfriends after working hard on the late-night launch of an ebook (about iPhone photography…loved working on this one obviously!) However there’s another side to vintage finds. Moments and memories. Treasured memories. Some books I have been reading also spoke of objects from the past.
For instance, I read with curiosity how artist Mirka Mora practically caught memories in her handbags. One day she lost many of them, following a visit from Marcel Marceau in which he advised her to lose some clutter before it took over her life. She gave many of her beloved handbags away to charity. Only to try and buy back as many as she could. You see, she realised, regretfully, that she couldn’t bear to part with so many memories, after all. (“It is as if my fate is sealed and I cannot change the way I am, or I might lose the art of painting, who feeds on the memories encrusted in my brain.” Mirka Mora, Love and Clutter)
In her older age, Nora Ephron wrote with amusement and a sense of betrayal about her memories. Many had left her. Amusing because she could remember some trivial and useless things. The more important details however, were washed away with time. She regretted not keeping a journal and love letters. I wonder if our blogs will help us to remember some of the moments we forgot to document elswhere, when we’re older. (“On some level, my life has been wasted on me. After all, if I can’t remember it, who can?” Nora Ephron, I Remember Nothing)
In 1989 I visited Berlin as part of a student exchange program and LOVED the op shops. We could buy the American Military’s used Levi 501′s by the kilo. I still remember a silk pyjama top which I wore as a shirt the next year, and a fuschia coloured silk dress which I wore and wore until I couldn’t repair it. They reminded me of the vibrancy of West Berlin, the punks, a creative city and my first trip overseas on my own. Obviously I don’t own them any more. I wonder if I will forget about Berlin. About the op shop owner who had mascara running down his face as he sobbed into the phone. The feeling of being in such a big city as a teenager. About the bizarre feeling of a city divided and the sad, courageous stories she once told.
When I find lovely things in op-shops I can’t help but wonder what memories they once held. Then I place them in my home, on my bookshelf or my wardrobe and forget that they ever held …or will hold…any memories at all.