Dear Readers, I present to you ThrippieGalore's first guest blogger, Harmony Button! Harmony is an accomplished poet and essayist (Pushcart Prize nominee, Larry Levis poetry prize winner, published in journals like White Whale Review and ep;phany, though she would probably be too modest to tell you that stuff), a seasoned thrifter, a transplant to Utah from the Northeast, a first-time homeowner (documented on This Old Blarg), and, as you'll read below, guardian of a new puppy.
|Puppy at rest.|
Here's the thing about thrifting: it's not about the stuff. Even when it is about the stuff – those pearly buttons, that vintage orange and olive upholstery – the act of thrifting, that undignified rummaging that leaves you desperately in need of a wash, is about the possibility of finding something awesome. And if you find it while on the thrift, that means that whatever the awesome thing might be, somebody, at some point, decided they didn't want it any more. The more awesome the thing, the greater the miracle that someone gave it away – and the greater your pleasure in discovering it.
TRANSITIVE PROPERTY OF AWESOME:
If Awesome (A) is inversely proportional to Rejected (R) as Miracle (M) is proportional to Thrippie Galore! (TG!), then R = TG! when A ≥ R.
And then you buy it, because, really, how could you not? The greatest thrift finds are not acquisitions... they are rescues. You are, by default, a Discount Hero, liberating the Awesome from all the other rejects. For anyone who believes in true love, thrifting is a life-affirming act.
|Puppy with fork on Grandma Turpin's couch.|
When the man of my life left for a month long film shoot (he's a camera guy – he thrifts for beauty with a lens), I was disproportionately sad. We've been together long enough to know that a month apart would not shake the solidarity of our relationship, but long enough to also feel the distance with the gut: instead of a fluttery mix of anxiety and desire that threatens to burst into panic at any moment, our way of missing each other was like coming home to find that someone had rearranged the rooms inside my house. Everything's the same, but I can't reach my kitchen because now it's on the roof. How am I supposed to...? How can I...? His absence made his presence echo. So, I did what any reasonable woman might do: when he left, I cried a little, washed the dishes, got in the car and drove to the Humane Society of Utah.
How could I not?
He spent the first two weeks sleeping in the crook of my arm: ten pounds, sweet breath, soft fur. He woke me when he had to pee or when his case of kennel cough convulsed his tiny body so dramatically that he vomited up puddles of mucus. True love is waking with your hand in vomit and thinking, poor puppy, not, poor me. The best thrifts sometimes need a little fixing: we're on our third course of antibiotics.
But oh, the joy of it! He was the thrift of all time: the thrift to end all thrifts. The thought that someone was able to leave him behind at the shelter is entirely baffling to me: how could they? I was simultaneously offended for him and delighted by my own good luck. This is the dirty little secret about thrifting: it is elicit, like you're getting away with something. It shouldn't be yours, but through someone else's folly, you strike upon undeserved good luck.
It was the moment of thrift magic: mine now.
|Harmony and puppy share the frame.|
A month later, the man came home to a house that had been literally rearranged: all the shoes now live in the spare bedroom; all the power cables have been taped down. My house now smells like lavender and sandalwood and Pine Sol from the Daily Mop. There is a waist-high gate separating the kitchen from the front room, installed in a hard-won battle I waged with a screwdriver and a beer at midnight, after discovering that my new puppy was smarter than my handy skills were handy: unless I screwed the gate into the wall, he could unlatch the top by tugging on the bottom rail. I was equal parts delighted and annoyed – what a clever, clever beastie.
|Harmony and Briscoe take five.|
The man came home to find I'd hidden all his power tools, organized his shoes and sorted his mail into Junk, Bills, Uh-Oh and Other. At first, I was afraid he'd resent the time the puppy took, the cleaning products needed, the unexpected poo. But what was good for puppy was also good for us: we take more walks, we practice patience and consistency, we don't leave dinner dishes on the floor, even when all three of us spend dinnertime on the couch, watching Battlestar Galactica.
The greatest thrifts reveal to you not only what you want, but who you are: when you are in the store, you think perhaps I am the kind of woman who could pull off those boots; perhaps my house does want a fringed lampshade; perhaps I have the kind of relationship that can sustain distance and dogs. Even as you rescue the rejected, you discover who you are.
The other day, puppy saw his first duck.
– Those are Whats? he asked, cocking his head.
– Ducks, I told him. Those are ducks.
– DUCKS! he laughed, and I immediately realized I am the kind of girl who always wanted to chase ducks, but thought society would judge me if I did it by myself. And so, together, we chased.
It's not about catching the duck – I would be vaguely horrified if we did. Even when you have the thing you've been chasing (a man, a dog, a duck... er, okay, maybe not the duck – metaphors, like polyester, can be stretched too thin), the pleasure is still in the chasing.
The puppy wears three tags and has a microchip between his shoulder blades, but still, sometimes I ask him: will you be my puppy? My puppy?
– Yes yes yes, my puppy says, but I'll keep on asking.