High hopes, hand-me-downs is all one needs

Michele Zirkle Marcum - Guest Columnist

Don’t underestimate the value of today’s second-hand stores. The window display of one stopped me dead in my tracks.

The arrangement of garments draped over the Victorian-style furniture gave the appearance someone had just undressed in the living room and tossed their blouse and pants to the highest bidder. It looked familiar and cozy even though I’d never been in a store like it before. The clothing boutique enticed me inside the way my sister’s closet did in the 1980s.

I step inside, feeling as if I’ve slid through a time tunnel into my teenage years when I’d scavenge through my sister’s closet for her cool, cropped jean jacket. It was as if an alarm on the door alerted her I was there. She’d burst through in a huff, swearing this was the last time she’d permit me to wear it, all the while digging through a pile of shoes.

She’d hand me a pair, usually the red pumps. “Here. Might as well borrow these, too. Finish off the Madonna look.” Most of the clothes in my wardrobe had hung in her closet new, with tags still hanging from them. My family wasn’t poor, but frugal and with two girls, a few years apart, recycling clothes made sense.

Deeper into the store, my leg bumps into the open drawers of an armoire holding bundles of scarves and shirts. Something glistening from the white table beside it, seems to wink me near. I scan the bracelets and rings protruding from black velvet and pick up a gold Timex watch, the square shape and bangle band, reminding me of the one my grandmother strapped on my wrist before she died. Grandma knew I loved it and would let me borrow it on occasion. “It’s yours, Chelly, Just remember life happens on your time. Don’t’ pay too much attention to what the hour is.”

Back then I spent my days doing more dreaming about topics to write about than actually writing. I aspired to be the author of a New York Times best-seller. The idea of leaving something tangible like words for the world to remember me by, both thrilled and scared me. Thrilled me because with writing, I could plan in advance how to say what I wanted to with the correct vocabulary and tone, unlike my daily fumbling of verbal interactions with people, and scared me because I wasn’t sure I had anything worthwhile to say.

I purchase the watch and saunter down the tree-lined sidewalk, a robust satisfaction bursting from within — a sensation of timelessness engulfing me. Through the watch, my grandmother had just communicated with me, reminding me to value my time.

Shopping the mall isn’t as intriguing as was poking around in my sister’s closet or my grandmother’s jewelry box. Why does shopping have to be intriguing? It doesn’t — it can be a functional and necessary.

Armed with reward points and coupons, I’ve “saved” more than I’ve spent, but trudged home from such outings with a trunk-full of bags and an empty feeling in my gut. Sure, the large jewelers on the corner may have a watch that resembles this one, but would I have slowed down enough to notice it calling me? The second-hand store nourished the feeling of sentiment that leisure provides.

I reach my car, slide the strap of my Coach purse over my new, vintage watch and slip into my seat. The finished manuscript to “Rain No Evil,” is lying on the front seat. I place my hand on the treasure of words I’ve created, and my mind floats back to a time when all I had were high hopes and hand-me-downs — and all I had was everything I would ever need.


Michele Zirkle Marcum

Guest Columnist

Michele Zirkle Marcum is a native of Meigs County and an author. Her column appears each Tuesday.

Michele Zirkle Marcum is a native of Meigs County and an author. Her column appears each Tuesday.