Old Jeans and Eskimos: What's your Vintage? / by Birdie Busch


I got a pair of jeans yesterday at a second hand shop that I've calculated to be about 35 years old. I used to just go into these shops and think “Oh, I’m buying the old things,” but now I actually think about how old my vintage is. My “vintage” will be for someone down the line “crazy old” and my clothes will be their “vintage”. Time is such a peculiar thing. I have a locket of my grandmother’s grand mom from the 1800’s. This seems to be my oldest thing. Although last year I took off a dresser knob from a dresser on the trash that had inscribed in the back of the metal piece “90” as if to say the year and I know it wasn’t 1990. 

I live next to a used furniture store. When I lived in the country it was a tombstone store I lived next to, and I wrote a song about it that closes my second album Penny Arcade. I had been going through a hard time in my life and I would take walks through the cemetery and study the graves, my favorite was a man who had his big old Cadillac etched into his stone. I haven’t written a song about the furniture store but as with anything that is there to run through your head just for the fact that you see it everyday it tends to get to you, like the Eskimos and all their words for snow I have taken this store into my thoughts. 

The trash for both our buildings sits in a messy line right in between. The man who runs the store regularly puts furniture he deems unsellable out on the trash and then I decide if it’s reusable. Most furniture that comes in has had its drawers emptied but sometimes people leave things in the drawers and the man usually dumps it out into the trash. Piles of photos, undergarments, stationary. Once I found a stack of perfectly folded handmade handkerchiefs, probably from the 30’s and 40’s, and ran over to rescue them like he had put a live baby in the trashcan, and brought them upstairs and soaked them in a bucket. They were so delicate they almost disappeared in the water, when I went to stir them around it was like a layer of pudding skin. I get emotional about these finds, like it was my own family member that died and these were their things.

I am fascinated with the past. It’s interesting how some people get really into the past and some get really into the idea of the future. I’ve started to try and think about how people tend towards either and what is it in their own lives that have effected this preference or fascination. Like is a wealthy movie star who loves to surround themselves in a modern house with modern furniture trying to get away from reminders of aging and mortality? Does someone who loves old things feel afraid to let go of other things?

I started to realize that something I like about the past is that I can observe from it humans that came before me trying to work out the human condition. I can take it all in and see the things that are archetypes, timeless efforts and meanings. I feel the voices singing on the record player subconsciously saying “Ok, listen here, this is what I have to tell you” and then me listening in like it’s the words of a wise sage. We in America, do we really give the time of day to sages? Where are our huts exist to drink tea with a Wiseman? Who is your Wiseman or Wisewoman?

Pondering the past, Birdie Busch