Second hand furniture: Part 2 / Nostalgy

Yesterday, at a second hand market, hanba found herself in a room filled with old chairs. The light was coming through a dusty window, filtering through the room with bare concrete walls. In this small room there were several chairs from the former half of the previous century. The covers and colors had faded but the frames were still very attractive – which is why the merchant was asking quite a fat price for these old beauties.

I looked around and thought about a problem with vintage furniture. It is too laden with memories. At the store it was hard to see what kind of an atmosphere one of the chairs will generate in your own home. At the home an old chair is only a small part of the overall furnishment. As a single detail, it can be quite a romantic piece to add to your room. When several are put together, however, they reinforce one another’s gloominess. The memories shared by all the chairs becomes heavy, dusty, nostalgic. The word ‘nostalgy’ includes the word ‘algia’ which means pain. (E.g. ‘analgetics’=”anti-algics”=painkillers) Who wants to experience this pain in their own home?

As weird as this sounds, this made hanba think of her grandmother. How she, like most grandmothers, likes to spend time with her family; her children and grandchildren. She has her “girlfriends”, a group of old ladies who have known each other since elementary school. These ladies have so many experiences in common, having lived through the same times, years, phases, ideologies. For a younger person, spending time with peers may bind one closer to them. For an older peer group, however, there might be just a bit too much life lived together for a group gathering to be only pleasant. Too many memories come together at once. The mass of common memories can become heavy and weigh you down. The group may very well be consumed by nostalgy. It may be more pleasant to be the only “old piece of furniture” in a room – just as my grandmother says she feels happier spending time with her grandchildren.

It may seem materialistic and insensitive to compare one’s grandmother to an old chair. Nevertheless, I believe this experience may have made me understand her a bit more and hence, hanba will not apologize for this. Also, hanba has a lot of respect for the old, durable furniture. More so than all the newer items made of pressed sawdust.

It will be interesting to see what hanba’s grandchildren’s generation think about us. We will certainly outlive the sawdust creations we have produced. Will there be any items left that will make our grandchildren understand us better? A heck of a lot of scratched plastic bowls?


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