Guest post by T-Ann Pierce, who wears many hats so well as a mom to four, personal well being coach, writer, volunteer and friend
Recently, I was asked what I liked to do in my free time. I tend to hiccup slightly when asked this question because I would love to respond in a dignified manner, siting fine needlework or equestrian pursuits, but the truth is, I love rummaging through other people’s junk.
The attics of my childhood were usually slightly dangerous to reach and therefore forbidden. They called to me like a siren’s song. There were tidy attics filled with old prom dresses and mink stoles and chaotic attics filled with dusty crates and rusty farm tools, but every attic held a trove of stories and I loved getting lost in the treasures.
I’ve never outgrown the stories the old cast offs have to tell, though I no longer tiptoe through forbidden attics. These days, the thrill of the hunt takes me poking through thrift stores, old barns or vintage markets.
Even before we moved abroad some years ago, I would return from foreign trips with fantastic treasures found off the beaten path. I was happy to forgo a trip to the top of the Eiffel Tower. Ask me instead about the exquisitely monogrammed French linens I scored at a local French flea market. Filled to the gills with Guinness, in Dublin I unearthed a lantern that now hangs in my sunroom. An especially dodgy flea market in Rome produced an impeccably tailored, 100% cashmere coat. Copenhagen’s rummage sale yielded a delightfully folksy oil painting and in Greece, a ten ton chessboard.
Second only to my love of treasure hunting, is my devotion to purging my home of excess. We are a family of six. Without discipline, we would be living in what might resemble the set of Sanford and Sons. I purge. A lot. In fact, my husband is wholly certain if he were to sit long enough, he, too, would end up in a big black garbage bag awaiting the arrival of the Am Vets collection man.
Returning to the United States after living in England for over six years, I was forced to consolidate our lovely English home with an American storage unit crammed with long forgotten and outgrown stuff.
In a moment of unparalleled purging (and obvious mental strain), I donated a lifetime of stuff. I simply wanted to be free from the tether of ‘stuff’, free from the responsibility unwanted heirlooms placed on me, free to live with and use only what I loved.
Weeks later, I stumbled into a North Shore interiors shop only to discover many of my cast- offs, artfully arranged and adorned with shocking price tags. Instantly, I felt the sweaty palms of regret. Within minutes, however, I was reminded of how that stuff had weighted me like an anchor. I didn’t want it back. I left the shop flattered by the confirmation of my exquisite good taste (!) and happy in the knowledge that I gifted another treasure seeker with the thrill of the hunt.
And so it goes.