mad in pursuit journal

DISPATCHED FROM THE CROSSROADS, AT THE intersection OF flotsam & jetsam

Consignment Shop Spirits

On Saturday afternoon, June 17, we roamed the streets of Kingsport, Tennessee. In the old downtown, many of the buildings have been converted to big antique marts. Good idea. Except that on a sunny June weekend there were almost no customers — only the hopeful managers and mountains of sad abandoned household goods. It got me thinking how our spirits cling to the items we own and handle and how the spirit lingers after we've thrown them away.

So, when I go through these big consignment shops, they are an odd limbo — the flotsam and jetsam of people who have died or who have dumped the old goods for something new. They echo with long-past conversation, laughter, crying. If you own old things, the spirits are valued. They are happy (especially if kept dusted and don't feel too cramped). In shops, they are suspended — exposed only to the rough hands and judgmental eyes of passersby.

This is a delicious train of thought. There must be a religion that has a name for this. It isn't quite animism, because I think of the spirits as only shreds, leftovers from the past. I toy with the idea that my sensation has a scientific basis — you know, energy fields and subatomic particles, mingling with all our interactions.

I brought home with me my grandmother's china. I don't believe it's "possessed" in any way, but — like her furniture in my living room — I do believe it echoes with all the friends and relatives who enjoyed Thanksgiving and Christmas and Easter dinners with her.


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