Posted by: ktzefr | April 5, 2019

Treasures, Junk, and Memories

In an antique store on Calle 60 in Merida, Yucatan I discovered an old Singer sewing machine, the kind my mother used to make my clothes when I was growing up in Kentucky.  In those days I wore print dresses with circle-tail skirts, fashioned from bolts of store-bought fabric and from empty feed sacks that had once held the powder we mixed with water to feed the cows.

Now, walking along a familiar street in a favorite neighborhood, I duck inside a shop to flee the 95-degree heat of late February.  I spot the sewing machine amongst a heap of Mexican treasures – colorful pottery and dingy newspapers, clothes and clocks, lamps and jewelry.  The little tienda is bulging at the seams.

A zig-zag path has been cleared from door to counter where the proprietor stands amongst a mountain of pretty junk, an aging woman perfectly fit for the place, dressed like a gypsy with cotton-candy pink hair and a smile that would be hard to match. 

I stop for a moment to grasp onto a memory, the coming together of past and present, the marvel of eccentricity, of sudden joy, of standing at the school bus stop in a neon blue dress with big yellow polka dots.  


When I outgrew the polka-dotted dress, my mom turned it into an apron.  I still have it…somewhere.  Her sewing machine was recycled to sit in my foyer and hold fresh vases of flowers. 

But what about recycling memories?

Not long after we left the antique store in Merida, we passed the pink-haired lady going off with a friend.  What if we had not stopped?  Or if she had closed a few minutes earlier?  I would have missed the old sewing machine or, perhaps, the memory it prompted would have been different.  If a young girl or an old man had been tending shop, I might have recalled my mom sewing a simple black skirt for the spring concert, or hemming my corduroy pants like the ones the boys wore.

Did the junk store lady’s surprising appearance cause me to conjure up my most outrageous image linked to the old Singer?  What fun it was!

I wonder what memories are locked up, waiting to be held.  I wonder what memories will never be recovered because there is nothing to remind us?  

What a lost treasure trove!

Or a bunch of junk…


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