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Wednesday, 1.26.05: Trading

Scattered thoughts.

Another day at the objet orphanage. My mission continues. Three Switzerland items will go home to Switzerland and I predict that this afternoon the fourth one will also be headed that way because one buyer -- Rolf -- is interested in having them all. They were souvenirs from Hannah H. Sisbee's trip there in 1871. And maybe one day Rolf's collection will wind up in a shop and will be purchased again by foreign visitors in the throes of enthusiasm for his homeland.

And the beat goes on.

There is sort of a net of common interest that binds us together. Invisible threads. Some days we seek the exotic, the "other," something that expands our world and gets us out of ourselves. Other days we look for the familiar -- for things that make our own place and our own selves feel real and significant. Our moods shift and we seek out the little objects that someone else is offering. I'd like to think that my historical connection to Hannah H. Sisbee and my new connection to Rolf in Switzerland helps the cause of world peace (ah, the Miss America speech I never got to give...). While the tinpot dictators and imperialists and multinational corporations wreak havoc on the planet, the real people quietly keep on trading and weaving the fragile cloth of mutual benefit.

How many children begin collecting postcards when their aunts and uncles go traveling and send them pictures of exotic places? But then, when they are older, their collections take off when they begin finding postcards of their home towns. They die. There grandchildren say What is all this boring old crap? and throw them all back on the market.

I've been slavishly entering data on postcards I want to sell. I've been including the names of the recipients, thinking that someone researching their genealogy might find them. I have a bunch of postcards sent among members of the same family. Someone was cleaning out the attic and handed them over to a postcard dealer. I wonder if they are sorry now, if they'd like to have them back.