On the way to my doctor’s appointment this afternoon, I stopped in to the Salvation Army’s Thrift Store for a wander. Afterall, I was 45 minutes early. I used to live in that part of town and knew what it was to be a part of that whole scene on International Avenue. I’ve been thinking about retirement lately. I know. I know. It seems it isn’t in my nature, but really, it’s about time I think about retirement.
So anyway, the Thrift Store and the notion of retirement….they DO connect, only you, as readers, you don’t know exactly how. Well, my bank person (my financial advisor) and I have sat and had a few conversations the past month about things and she knows and I know that it looks like down the road I might hit a shortfall. Well, truthfully, no one wants to sit across from a young woman in a navy blue business suit who is saying such things…but you walk away thinking to yourself…how mortal you are…how temporary you are…and it’s time to get transparent with the people you care about and not hold anything back.
Anyway…in the Thrift Store, the fifties music is playing and you notice the poverty around you. You notice the ladies with the funny hats and the hair pulled back in pony tails…slight greying whisps falling down around their faces. Their clothing seems to already be three sizes too- large for their bodies and you look down at your coveralls. But the music…it’s cheery! And at every rack of mismatched clothing strung out on wire hangers, you hear a voice singing, womens’ voices throughout the store singing Elvis Presley’s music off key, but with spirit. And you begin to smile wide smiles as you head to the back where the book racks are.
And here comes the connection. The banker lady asks, "Do you know where in your budget you might cut back? Are there areas where you overspend? Things you might cut back on?" I think about my spending and shake my head side-to-side until I remember my passion for books. Is this what it comes to? I ask myself?? Alright…then, perhaps I can find my books in Thrift Shops! I’ll cut back!
I stooped over and crouched down, scanning the titles stacked neatly on the bookshelves. They had that funny smell, a combination of dust and mildew…but I poured over them as though they were worth their weight in gold. A new tune was piped in through the air…sounding like a surreal version of elevator music…but a different era. I looked to the left as I heard another woman’s voice singing enthusiastically each and every word! When she skipped a few lyrics and began to hummm….I stated, "It’s so wonderful that in this store, everyone sings along!"
She returned, with a huge smile as she shifted her funny hat, "I come to this store just to get out. I always feel happy when I come here. And everyone sings along!" A shorter lady to my right, working her way through the old knitting magazines whispered, "I’m supposed to be grocery shopping." Just then, I had visions of myself growing into the skin of a wee eccentric lady singing tunes…dressed in heavy cloth coat and bright coloured hat…picking out my reading books on a Wednesday afternoon.
In all, I found a few books to collage into planned pieces in the studio…The Stone Angel by Margaret Laurence, a new copy of The Bridges of Madison County, an inscribed hardcover titled The Meeting of the Beautiful: The Triumphant Story of Annie Johnson Flint, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen and printed in 1957, Kennedy’s 1500 page Introduction to Fiction, Poetry and Drama: Fourth Edition, and Noyes 1300 page book on English Romantic Poetry and Prose, all for $8.45.
As I stood at the cashier’s station, learning that it was her last week and that she would be going back to school to be a nutritionist, I saw a bright red artist’s tam hanging on a coat hook. As I oogled it, I said to the would-be nutritionist, "Can you believe I found Pride and Prejudice for fifty cents?" She returned with, "Hmmmm, I haven’t heard of that one." In the end, I really threw caution to the wind placed another $3.50 on the counter just for me…walked over and put the red tam in my book bag. I thought of Joni Mitchell and music and red and the joy of the women in the store, and thought there could be no better way to celebrate the moment! It was magic!