“Second hand books are wild books, homeless books; they have come together in vast flocks of variegated feather, and have a charm which the domesticated volumes of the library lack.” - Virginia Woolf
They say you can tell a lot about a person by the contents of their room. I’ve noticed that in mine, almost everything has been used and has been salvaged from somewhere, be it from our garage, a yard sale, a school, a used bookstore, a thrift store, or even just found off the street. All my records have been pulled from a dollar bin at a record shop, my record player was found collecting dust in the band room at my old high school, my old stereo amp was about to be thrown out by my dad, and the speakers that all my music comes out of used to be my sister’s from at least five or six years ago. I could go further than my current sound system at the moment, but I would bore you, dear reader, with details and stories of where everything in my room came from. But it is precisely in the huge network of stories that I find something familiar.
At first, I only considered buying used and old things as a way to save money and potentially get a better, long-lasting product because of the generally higher level craftsmanship that existed about twenty years ago. Things used to be built to last and as a result were very simple and did their jobs as they should, with reasonable enough quality, if not higher. Soon after I decided to opt for older, cheaper, even obsolete things, I started to realize that almost everything I bought has a story behind it, or was at least a part of some story. Almost all of the books in my possession have some name in it, and occasionally i’ll find a little dedication to somebody in them which tells of how somebody out there thought of somebody else while reading it. My stereo amp was bought by my dad in the late 70’s in Saudi Arabia, and god knows how many countries it’s been since then. The upright bass that now stands in my room used to be a broken, disheveled pile of wood sitting in a dusty corner of a band room, and that somewhere in its history, it was played by somebody (hopefully well and with love) but then abandoned for years and years, slowly breaking down entirely.
Maybe I attach too many human-like qualities to things, but somehow this strikes a chord with me. These things used to be loved once by somebody, used to have a home, used to mean something to somebody, but then were discarded and deemed useless by the very person or persons who loved them. In some cases, they came broken and I had to fix them in order to restore them to their former glory. And, taking a leaf out of Virginia Woolf’s book, they were wild and homeless, and they do, indeed, contain a charm that new things lack. I’m not sure if it’s a result of me being surrounded by them all the time or if it was me unconsciously making the decision to buy them, but I feel as if I’m the same way. I don’t feel like I have a home, and if I do, it’s not here. Most of the time I feel broken and in need of somebody interested enough to take me apart and try to fix me, even though that’s unreasonable. Somebody used to love me but left me in tatters, and now I find my place among other equally tattered things, sharing our stories and finding the only solace we can in ours and each other’s survival through it.
And there’s something satisfying in being the one who gives a home to something, or being the one to fix something. I like giving new lives to other things and being that sort of person in general. The other day I just fixed a pedal adaptor which had its cord ripped and I felt such joy in making it work again and it being able to serve its purpose. And I guess for once I just want somebody to be that for me, to be someone who can trust me enough to serve what I think is my purpose. I never got that from my parents, and as such a lot of my equipment had to be bought by myself and taken from wherever I could get it. I know we are always to be alone in this world, but to have somebody who can love you enough to trust despite all your scars and everything you’ve been through must be a wonderful thing.
Until then i’ll try and be that for whatever things and people may cross my way, and hopefully they’ll have as much compassion towards me. But things, of course, are much, much more reliable than people are….