Monday, 4 February 2013

Transience


Beneath the surface is the prompt for this week's 100 Word Challenge at Julia's Place. This morning I visited an auction room where the harvests from local house clearances are displayed before going under the hammer. Antique bureaus stood beside 1970s kitchen cabinets; Victorian chaises longues beside wicker sofas. Someone's bowling kit was mixed in with a warming pan, a china doll, a fur coat and a ukelele. I'd gone in agog for a bargain and emerged chastened by a pair of bedside tables circa 1960...


The scars on the two small tables chart fifty years of married life. Now, shorn of context, they stand degraded, their plywood cheapness shown up by someone else's ornate oak wardrobe. I wince at the intimacy of the objects, exposed to the assessing eyes of strangers. To the auctioneer they are catalogue numbers with a pitiful reserve price, but beneath the surface I catch poignant echoes of dismantled lives. And I realise that the treasures of my own home are made priceless only by memories and when the last of those memories have faded, they'll be flotsam worth a fiver on an auction-room floor.

29 comments:

  1. Beautiful and poignant .... at the end of the day life is carved from memory and reflection, not stuff. BTW you have been nominated in best blog writer and I think blog of the year in the MADS - no surprises there :o). X.

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  2. Great post. I often feel the same when attending auctions.

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  3. You write so beautifully. I'd be jealous, if jealousy wasn't so unbecoming a quality x

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    Replies
    1. I'm quite happy to admit unbecoming jealousy of your glam good looks!

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    2. Smoke and mirrors, my dear, smoke and mirrors.

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  4. So timely. My mother has just sold the house she and my father moved into in 1962. I was born in one of the bedrooms there. So many pieces of furniture to get rid of. Each one could tell a thousand stories.

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    1. How sad for her - and you. I survey my parents' house sometimes, dreading the time we have to clear it and I realise that so many of the familiar things I love are worthless in the wider world. I wish you well with that ordeal.

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  5. absolutely...as I drove through countryside today, I saw a two story house, about to collapse...no paint left, windows broken and saddest of all, the porch roof fallen over and toppling slowly to the deck...I thought of the family or families that had made their lives there and it was so sad, so empty. Breath of life, touch of hand, connection and memory all so transient. Thanks for writing and sharing.

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    Replies
    1. My children had a story book about a derelict house. The great grandpa, who'd raised his family there, looked at it and saw the washing that had once hung from the line, his long-dead wife pruning roses and his long-grown children waving from the windows. Everyone else looked at it and saw a wreck.

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  6. Wow, this story is so true.

    Unimportant things
    lacking the memories
    lost in yeard sale

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  7. Very powerful writing and such a sad thought

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  8. This is really good writing.

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  9. I lked the difference between the extrinsic and intrinsic value that could only be seen by the owner. Interesting view point.

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    Replies
    1. Sadly, that's probably the case with most of the things we treasure most.

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  10. I really enjoyed reading what you had to say - and how you said it. Now I really know why I can't get rid of clutter.

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    1. Strangely, I find getting rid of clutter cathartic. Imbue far more significance to other people's things than my own.

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