Once you’re a certain age, you can let yourself go. I have always wanted to be the crazy old lady in the loud batik caftan who frightens the neighborhood kids away with a walking stick and pronouncements of doom. But not yet. My mom scolds me for wearing shorts that hit above the knee. “You’re going out in that?” I always tell her, “Yes, because I won’t when I’m seventy.” Or maybe I would.
Old houses let themselves go very well. They become downright picturesque.
After my grandaunts died, their clothes stayed in plastic bags, waiting for the living to decide which were mementos and which were rags. I found a dress, crisp with starch and pressed by decades, with an embroidered monogram on the pocket. I have vintage pens with other people’s monograms. There is, undeniably, a thrill in being the first to own a pen manufactured at the turn of the century. Being new old stock, or NOS, can add to a pen’s value. But there is also joy in being the unintended heir of Mary Marjorie Watson, she of the blue plastic pen with the Weidlich no. 2 nib, or Dr. George Collins, who signed his prescriptions with a striated Sheaffer Balance and a medium-to-broad flourish.
The browns of the Tibaldi Iride and of my grandaunt’s dress seem to like one another. The body is translucent, so I can see the ink level when I hold the pen up to the light. (This also makes for some pretty cool macro shots.)
The dress was mended, with microscopic meticulousness, at least twice that I could see. I am not the most careful of people, and snag my clothes on every protruding door knob there is. I cannot help but be amazed by those stitches, how they held (and hold) wear and tear and time at bay. It is the same amazement I feel at holding a pen that still works after a hundred years. Perhaps a century from now someone will hold a pen of mine and feel the same way. “It’s all banged up, but my God, it writes.”