Sept. 29, 2016. We've lived in our cabin for over a year now, but only recently have we brought over the household spirits from the condo. The ancient Romans had their lares et penates, ancestor spirits and hearth gods, embodied in figurines, that turned a new dwelling into a home. Ours are mostly adopted -- tribal arts sold off for cash, Civil War artifacts, old optical toys, Art Nouveau vanity sets, Buddhist votive figurines -- the list goes on. Upstairs, our walls are crowded now with African masks, a gathering of statues huddle under a table, another group crowds a shelf along the stairs. They are taking over the window sills. I can feel them.
We have spent years gradually moving the most restless of our orphaned spirits out to new homes. We're trying again but keep hearing the same refrain from the long-time dealers. No one collects anymore. Young people can't be bothered with heavy old furniture and dusty old knick-knacks. There are still enough retiring Baby Boomers who read physical books, but historic 19th century books... fuhgeddaboudit.
Millennials are too mobile to be weighed down by "stuff." Their heads are in the cloud. They prefer irony to history.
And of course, if you own a Precolumbian pot, a chunk of stone from a Hindu temple, the head of a Buddhist statue, or any sliver of carved ivory, you have participated in a crime (or if not legally a crime, definitely a sin), even if it was commited a hundred years ago. It becomes part of the burden of ownership: shame.
An order of shelving came in yesterday and I spent time last night on the first wave of organizing the "history" strewn across the floor. I was frustrated with the growing category of "miscellaneous" and wondering what would happen if some things found their way into the trash. But suddenly I was overcome with sadness. They ganged up on me... the Meershaum pipe, the Civil War grave marker, the Magic Lantern, the wooden airplane propeller, the Edison recording cylinder. No one wants us. No one wants us. Why don't you just light a match and release us from our loneliness? Our history will vanish. Our spirits will be extinguished. We won't be a burden to you anymore. Oh my God, I have a room full of noisy spirits. They have given me so much: they make me curious, they take me on a journey, they tell me stories. Why the hell is owning them "out of style"??? I found myself promising to take care of them, envisioning myself a doddering old lady, still listening to the sound of their voices in perpetual conversation.
One room on our ground floor is my studio and office. The other, I understand now, will be the Magic Room, where history and beauty and ancient rituals will open a portal in time and space to transport us, Jim and me, happily ever after.
THE SUDDEN SILENCE: A Tale of Suspense and Found Treasure (2015) Thailand: lovers of ancient treasure tangle with international black markets. Delia Rivera pulls Martin Moon back into the game and their quest turns deadly. In paperback and Kindle editions.
TRIBE OF THE BREAKAWAY BEADS: Book of Exits and Fresh Starts (2011) Time after time, Mary asks herself: Do I go or do I stay? She finds her power in her ancestors: Smart women turn discontent into action. An illustrated memoir in paperback and Kindle editions.
PASSION AND PERIL ON THE SILK ROAD: A Thriller in Pakistan and China (2008) The twin forces of revenge and redemption drive Nellie MacKenzie and Taylor Jackson on a crazed adventure into the heart of Central Asia. They grapple with issues of ethics, trust, rage, and bitter heartbreak -- as well as the intrigue of the international antiquities trade. In paperback and Kindle editions.
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