Just those two words, collecting treasures, make my entire brain come to life. I can literally feel little sparks of excitement begin in my brain, travel down to my shoulders, and then cover my entire face and arms.
When did it begin? This collecting fascination?
Can you remember when yours first began?
I can almost perfectly pin point mine.
I can go back to about 16 years old.
It was on travels outside of the little town I grew up in, which had little to no antique or thrift stores. I would spot mind blowing thrift stores, and beg my parents to go in.
I remember being in San Francisco, and seeing the most incredible 3 story antique/curio shop. Every part of my being drew me to the place.
Of course, my parents would have none of that.
Someone else's "junk" in our house, umm, no way, said they.
To me, it was the polar opposite of junk.
It was treasure, pirate's treasure, old dilapidated mansion treasure, secret treasure!
Since I wasn't allowed to schlep any of it home at the time, I became even more enchanted by those over stuffed antique stores, and all the tales each item held.
In a word - the items held inside of antique shops were pure mystery to me, and I was more than intrigued.
I was about 16-17 when my parents started letting me go (in my car) to places outside of my town, for day trips. My first day trip took me to a thrift shop in downtown Tucson.
On 4th avenue.
And, to a little antique store in Tubac, Arizona.
It was there, that the collecting began.
Outrageous fabulous shoes and jewelry.
Some for 25 cents in 1993-94.
All pieces I still have.
Some of my best treasures in fact.
Often I feel so glad and amazed really, that at that young age I started my treasure collecting. Coming from a home where little was old (and virtually everything was brand new), it's interesting to me that somewhere deep inside of me I had a vast love for old treasures.
I have even had countless dreams (beginning from 13 to now) of a person I was in times past. I can see her house - her attic.
It is vivid, like a parallel universe, back in time.
I can see her in a great big round paned window, 3 stories up, looking down at me, and me being her.
But, that is a tale for another day.
What I am trying to say is that at the age of 16ish I knew about things, and liked things, that there was no way I could have known about. Plus for years, people I knew (as well as strangers), would tell me, you have such an old soul, I feel like I know you. (insert twilight zone theme)
As a tid-bit side track to this tale - one other thing I knew how to do beginning in my very early teens was make handmade bread. I don't know how I knew. I just knew. It felt like some strange deep memory. One Christmas when I was 13 or 14, I announced that I was making several panettone, and I did. To this day, I have no clue how I knew how to make it. No one had taught me, and my mom can't bake bread. So, who knows? (insert twilight zone theme again)
Okay so - back to what I was initially saying....
Where was I?
Oh yes, the beginnings of collecting.
My whole life I have had friends that are much older than me. So, it was in my early 20's that one of my older friends took me to her mother's house. It was there that my love for collecting, and my understanding of why people collect, as well as the fascination of that in itself, came together and ultimately came to light.
I stepped into the home of my friend's mother and I thought, YES! This is the feeling - this is what collecting is all about!
The house was filled with treasures that the woman loved. Treasures from voyages around the world. Treasures she made + collected - art, antiques, heirlooms and more.
I could see a life, the woman's life, gathered in oodles of eye candy collections.
I was speechless.
But mostly - I was touched at how, through her collections, the old woman in the wheel chair came to life right before my eyes.
Places she had been - what sort of things were meaningful to her.
And then of course, there were the stories behind the treasures.
It was at that moment that a light bulb went off in my head.
I understood just then that, you have to collect things that you totally and completely adore. Surround yourself with things that make you happy. And, who cares if anything goes or matches, who cares at all about that? Eclectic rules, when collecting comes into play.
It was about, surrounding yourself with items that tell your story, in a way.
At least, that was and is my interpretation of collecting.
It is a visual tale of what you love - items that stitch together bits and bobs of YOUness.
Items that make you feel good.
A sanctuary around you - of that which delights you.
Of course, I myself have gone though that sort of zen purging spree. Sometimes it feels good to sit in an empty room with a tiny amount of meaningful things.
Other times, it feels good to fill your walls.
It just depends on the feeling - or shall I say, vibe of your soul.
But, after a few serious purges over the years (which I would not do again), I have learned to box things up that I really don't feel connected to anymore, and put them away neatly. Then I revisit them in a year, and see what I am really ready to part with, and what I still want.
Over the years, the true junk has left my life - and I only keep things that make me genuinely happy.
Now I only keep what I love.
And, what I have grown to love over the years of collecting, is well...
I don't have one set style that I love.
I love it all.
Gustavian, Swedish, Edwardian, Victorian, ethnic, frilly, world flair, simple, outrageous, Indian, colorful, grey, fantasy, worn, French, fairy tale, pre-historic, Southwestern, Asian, South American, Middle Eastern, vintage, gypsy, religious, farmhouse, cottagey, Scandinavian, Italian, 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th century and on and on....
I like it all.
I truly can not think of one style that I turn my nose up at.
The one most important thing I hold dear is the thought that, everyone's style is special and wonderful. Even if it is not totally my taste, I still value it greatly. It is interesting to me, to see what folks collect.
I rarely say, oh, I hate that.
Or oh, that is awful or ugly.
I keep an open mind, because, it is all important to someone else.
And, I often can see the beauty in almost any type of collection.
I love entering people's homes and seeing their collections.
From books to figurines...
I am touched by what people keep on their shelves.
It is meaningful to them.
It is part of them.
It is special to them.
I have so many different types of friends. Some love to collect as well. Others have taken up collecting because of my "bad' influence ;) (including my mom)
And yet others are not interested in anything collected whatsoever.
But to me - collections can tell a story of who you are, and what you enjoy and hold dear.
I for one, adore that.
The thing about me liking so many different types of things is that, I go through bouts of obsessions. Especially with rocks and minerals and shells, and things from the earth.
I once obsessively collected shells.
I still adore them and enjoy them, but I don't collect them as much.
(mostly because I don't live by the ocean, and I am not in a traveling mood these days)
Because I make jewelry, gemstones are always high on my list.
I love rocks and fossils -
And have currently...
Taken to being more obsessed than every with polishing all my rocks with toothpaste and a toothbrush.
I am on rock high alert.
Going through mine and mister's collections...
Admiring them again.
He displaying treasures on one shelf, me on another, then both of us together. I love that he loves this sort of thing as well.
All I can do these days is dream about pretty rocks.
(too bad their true beauty and sparkle does not show up in photos at all)
Then I realize...
All these walks I take in the river bed and in the desert -
Looking at the ground, in search of what, I don't know?
(But I will know it when I see it)
I realize, it all comes back to the main point of the collecting story, which is...
The hunt is the funnest part.
I agree with some of you.
"Stuff" is meaningless in the grand scheme of things.
But to me, while I am here, I am going to enjoy it.
I am not going to think about the burden of dusting (which is no burden to me as I love dusting).
I am just going to be me.
And go on collecting what I like.
What makes me happy.
Cuz really, that's all I know how to be anyway.
I can't even reform myself if I try.
Not that I want to anyway.
And really, that is all there is to it when it comes to collecting.
It is yours, it is what you like.
It is what you enjoy.
That is all that matters.
Don't let anyone's bad attitude take away your love for collecting.
I have had my fair share of people criticizing why I have this or that.
Or how "they" think it is pointless.
(I stay clear away from those sort of folks)
Do what you love, do what you want.
Don't let anyone take that away from you.
Haters can lick a warty slimey oozing toad.
I would love to hear about your treasure loves.
What you are obsessed with now, and what you love to collect?
You will see me chatting back and forth in the comment section.
Well, I better go make lunch.
Then, rock hunting ensues.
ps: The mail just came with the March 2012 issue of Martha Stewart Living, and can I just say, it is scrumptious! It will make you want to stick your head into a gloriously earthy sack of potting soil!
pss: You know what they say right? 3 of something makes a collection :)