The summer sun drifted down to us through the canopy of maple trees overhead. Out of school, and into everything two girls under ten could find in their backyard.
Most notably, a shiny pair of high-heeled silver sandals.
Thoroughly familiar with earthworms and caterpillars spinning from our metal-framed jungle gym, we also had a taste for the finer things in life.
Such as my grandmother’s hand-me-down shoes. Heels. Strappy. And as gorgeous in the dewed-over morning grass as anything we’d ever seen.
My sister and I took turns with the shoes. Willingly, of course, like sisters everywhere. And when I’d manage to snag my turn, I felt almost forbidden, wearing these vestiges of the past. These promises of a future of high-heeled silver glamour.
The other day, setting the kitchen table for dinner, my bare feet kicked into an old red jeweled purse I’d passed down to my daughter. Stuffed full of monopoly money, Legos and a pair of baby mittens. You know, the essentials.
Something I’d tucked away in my closet for years, now swinging from her tiny arm. Something my mother had tucked away in her closet for years before that, as she’s the one who originally passed it down to me.
My daughter loves this purse. Or briefcase. Or treasure chest. Or whatever she calls it from day to day.
We had a babysitter come by a few nights ago. A sweet girl with a tie-dyed drawstring purse.
My own sweet girl eyed it with the same amount of wonder as if she’d sighted Atlantis.
“I like your purse!” she crooned. Turning over the thin cotton.
The babysitter smiled. Maybe someday she’d pass along this knapsack to her own little girl, on a family camping trip. Maybe it would be stuffed full of teddy bears and a flashlight.
I watched the exchange. Thinking of how I’d treasured any scrap of clothing ever passed down to me from my older cousin. Thinking of how my sister and I strolled around in those silver heels in the wet grass in our backyard, the sun glinting off our crazy-happy grins. And thinking of the reasons we treasure things.
Something old, when it becomes something new, is given a second chance at life.
In every small scuff, or tiny tear, lies a story from the past. A mark of some adventure. Or travel. A glimpse of the joy that object shared with its first owner, now possible for its second. Or third. Each person leaving a little something of themselves behind. A missing bead that bounced away on a dance floor under glorious chandeliers. Two stretched holes in a belt, unveiling the regular days and the skinny-jean days. Or even a knot of hasty stitches, a repair made on the run.
It’s adventure at its best. Right there up in your imagination as you look down at what’s in your hand.