I’ve collected more than a few things over the years. At one point I probably would have been considered a hoarder of sorts by many people – although I never had vermin, pestilence, or fire code worthy issues. Something would catch my fancy and before I knew it I would have three, the official number of items defining a “collection,” of whatever this coveted new item, artist, or knic-knac was. Many times as I was collecting, I realized that I was “settling” for what I felt was within my reach. I couldn’t afford a perfect mint condition Grueby, but a cracked New Hampshire was in reach. A high-end Brastoff necklace was WAY out of my league, but a little star steed ashtray would suffice. This is not to say i didn’t have an appreciation for those items; I didn’t always realize how this “settling” for something less was a life theme for me. (Not to be gone into further in this post.)
Of course when we covet or settle, we end up filling our lives and spaces with stuff, and sometimes even people , that don’t touch our hearts or add true value to our lives. We just don’t always figure that out for a long time, if ever.
As the chaos and clutter grew, so did my anxiety and feeling of lack – yes, the irony was hardly lost on me, luckily. The purges began and helping other people purge, and I was surrounded by a lot of purging, and somehow wound up with other people’s stuff to purge for them, too. It became too much. I got out of estate liquidation, none too soon.
I have nearly eliminated “hunting” at garage sales and estate sales and antique faires and flea markets. I still have an affinity for certain things, but no longer “settle.” One of the things I just adore is an old typewriter. Over the years I’ve owned a couple, yes, only two! Never a collection! One very old beastie was destroyed by a leak in a storage closet, the other one disappeared during a move along with my Pony Barbie doll, of all things. That said, I’ve looked here and there, never too dedicated and had yet to find a really stunning typewriter that called my name. Due to the sheer weight, I’ve leaned towards small portable models, nearly settled on a 60s model, then an old abused Underwood – but resisted.
Then, this weekend, it happened…I went early morning with my spousal unit to a local Antiques Faire that I hadn’t been to in a good 10 years at least. Wandering up and down the aisles I found a Brastoff in perfect condition for a reasonable price, but, alas, it just didn’t do it for me. I have a Very Big Collection – probably 20 pieces – of Sascha Brastoff ceramics. I passed this one by. I saw a few things here and there, and then I noticed a vendor wearing a top hat incongruously not quite steampunk, not quite anything beyond being very noticeable, and behind him, there she was, the most beautiful 1920s Underwood I’d seen in quite a long time, and she was small. The compulsion to get close to her, caress her, tap her space bar, test her carriage return, and press a few immaculately clean keys overwhelmed me. Being in a pricey town, I just knew she was going for near retail at cheapest – around here those typewriters in fair barely functional condition are priced around $125 and up. My hopes and expectations were low. I cruised her once, then twice, then looked at the others he had – a couple 1969s, a 1930s – none were in the condition she was. I finally dared to ask…”How much is the beauty that I’m in love with”? I said pointing to her. He smiled, figured he had me, and said, “$80.” I said, “cash only”? he said, “yes, there’s an ATM right there.” I cringed, it was a fair price and then some, how could I say no? I told him I had to check with my spousal unit – figuring hubby would tell me I was crazy. The man who would generally rather poke himself in the eye than be dragged to one of these things and then see me buy one more thing – said, “Is it less than $200?” I nodded. Then buy it.” GASP! There was no “look,” no critique, it was amazing. I went back to the vendor and asked his best price, thinking, $75, I’ll still take it. “$75” he says. “I’ll be right back!” Off to the ATM I went and had the audacity to cringe at the $3 ATM fee. “Totally worth it,” I murmured under my breath as I pressed the accept terms button. I handed over my money, got $5 change, “coffee money, yay!” and picked up my little lovely. The case is missing the handle, but I carried her most of the way back to the car until my sweetie finally took it from me and carried it the last block.
As I loaded that first sheet of paper to type my first page, I asked myself if I needed any more typewriters. Surprisingly, the answer was a content, satisfied, “No, she is exactly what I was looking for.” I typed until my little fingers just laughed in protest, refusing to exert the effort to make an imprint, and I finally understood that all the collecting wasn’t just collecting and acquiring, it was searching for this, this feeling of “yes.”
1926 Underwood Standard Four Bank Portable Typewriter