She often spent a day each month touring the antique shop. The one near the furniture stores. The one no one ever seemed to frequent because it seemed out of place. It’s nearest neighbor a party supply store. This particular antique shop had the very best prices on things she’d ever found and she often wished she could just find something she actually wanted to buy. After all, it would be lovely to support a place she frequented in order to feel she’d done something with her day, even if it was nothing more than browse.
There was always beautiful jewelry in the wall cases. Jewelry she could actually afford, jewelry that would appraise for much higher than was being asked. Jewelry she would never actually wear.
There were always interesting books on the myriad bookshelves, also for sale, strewn here and there throughout the store. Books with beautiful covers, worn covers, fabric covers. Books she would buy if she thought she’d ever read them, though she knew she wouldn’t. She already had a bookshelf of unread books in her own home.
She would often look at dressers, so many dressers, some oak, some painted to look old, some actually very old, all beautiful and heavy and slightly off in some way. She always wanted to take home at least one dresser, but how many dressers does a woman need? She already had two at home, one that lived inside her closet and one that lived outside. She had nowhere else to put another one, nor any clothes to fill one with. Still She’d look and debate and ultimately not purchase another dresser.
On occasion there’d be beautiful pieces of stained glass or paintings or artwork of some kind. Always things she’d appreciate from afar, perhaps even walk up to get a closer look, but never anything she could see taking up space in her space.
And then one day, just another ordinary day, she’d had her regular coffee and eggs benedict at her usual breakfast spot and then headed over to the antique store, just another day. Only on this day, after having spent the better part of thirty minutes walking through the left hand side of the store and coming up through the middle aisle to begin her jaunt down the right hand side of the store, as was her usual route, she saw something that stopped her in her tracks.
There was nothing particularly special about it. In fact it looked quite like something a grandmother would have hanging in her living room. The sort of thing that’s art but not art. Almost Thomas Kincaide-like. Only this was a barn. A barn in a field of white flowers. A blue sky, some trees, a bird here and there. Nothing particularly exotic or fantastic about it. The brushstrokes a far cry from Monet or was it Manet that did the outdoor scenes? At any rate, it wasn’t particularly anything really. And yet.
She loved the old frame, for the frame was indeed old. Wooden and ornate, not in carvings or decoration really, but not a simple single wooden frame either. The frame was plain wood on the outside band, then green painted wood on an inside band, then another plain wooden band, followed finally by a strip of fabric, before an ultimate thin strip of wooden frame and the painting nestled within. The frame itself was wondrous and if it had held a different painting would have belonged in a museum.
But she was glad there was nothing more than a barn painting within the bygone frame, for she loved the barn. She loved that it looked like a picture of tranquility, much more so than any picture of someone with their toes in the sand at some beach. The barn to her spoke of an age in which people cared for animals, cared for the land, cared for their neighbors, cared for themselves. The barn spoke to her of her ancestors and a life she’d never had to live, had never even heard about, a life she’d be hard put to describe aside from “hard.”
She approached the painting expecting that upon closer inspection it would fail to meet her approval, but finding only that she liked it even more and finding it only thirty dollars she picked it up from the wall and carried it to the cashier.
The cashier had seen her come in every month, had watched lazily and with little interest as she cruised up and down the store, lingering over dressers and jewelry but never purchasing anything. He was thus surprised when she approached with a painting in her hands. He looked at her expectantly, unsure what it was she needed him to know about the painting, perhaps it had fallen off the wall or was damaged in some way. He was even more surprised when he realized she wanted to purchase the painting and was downright flabbergasted when he saw which painting it was.
What in the world would this woman want with a painting of a barn that belonged in a grandmothers home.
He smiled as she left, there was no accounting for taste.
She went straight home this time, rather than continuing on to peruse dressers in the furniture shops, dressers she never bought but always lingered over. She went straight home and hung her new painting in her living room, where she could look at it when she rested her eyes when reading a book or when writing in her journal.
She looked up the painter, just to see what the piece was worth, just to see what she could find out about this painting that spoke to her as though she were an eighty year old woman who hadn’t been raised in a city. It turned out the painter was a man from Missouri, like her father had been, and barns were his shtick. He was quite famous for his barns, and while most of them sold in the thirty dollar range, some went for well over a thousand dollars. She’d never be selling this painting to stock her retirement fund, but that was just fine by her. She liked that it was an investment in herself, and not an investment.
~~~That’s one hour~~~