When I was a very little girl, my grandmother would take me downtown to the flea-market behind the bakery in Elk Rapids.  It was a long grey-metal pole building with a tin roof; the kind of place through which light was filtered and wafted beams suspended in mid-air.  

I held her hand and passed at eye-level each table atop which sat jewelry and trinkets, antique items like hand-cranked drills and game boards with tattered edges.  My grandmother would give me a dollar and allow me to choose whatever it was I wished to buy.  It was magic to find a ring or necklace or ceramic toy dog and to purchase it all on my own.

Even in High School, I would walk down to the antique shops that dot the side streets of my hometown, with pocket full of money earned washing dishes, and buy up old sheet music, an oblong metal box, a candle holder, or book.  These were treasures to me – though the items themselves bore little use, they opened my eyes to a time before the here and now and connected me to the whole of our human existence. 

For $.50 I could buy a magazine with photos of couples in worn clothing, sewn by hand.  See photos of eyes long since cloaked in death.  Reminisce without ever having lived in this or that bygone era.  I loved the peace it brought me in the moment.  A feeling I was less alone.  

Perhaps this is why I prefer those things built long ago, by hands now gone.  It serves as a reminder that our actions survive the grave.

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