Grace Notes

a blog about life’s everyday magic

June 7, 2016

The Memory of Worn Things

Grace Notes | The Memory of Worn Things

Words: Christine Hiester
Photo credit: Christine Hiester

 

The soft hum of conversation surrounds me. I sit at a small rectangular table by the wall of my my favorite local coffee shop, a friendly trio – my mug of cherry mocha, composition notebook journal, and small potted plant – keeping me company. This is a comfortable place, one without even a hint of pretense. Lovingly-wrapped chocolates line the shelves along the walls, waiting to be purchased as gifts, and small pieces of artwork from a local photographer hang in the gaps. It is early morning, and the old-timers are meeting behind me, bonding over the small town newspaper, or maybe a game of chess, and discussing current events. The regulars, those who are in the rushed transition between home and work, bustle in and out, grabbing their cuppa something and offering a quick hello to friend and stranger alike. After sharing a few greetings of my own, I root around in my purse for my bright yellow fountain pen and settle in for a quiet hour.

 

It’s like this nearly every morning. This small place, frequented by so many in my town, is a hodgepodge of scattered, mismatched wooden chairs and tables, all with unique personality, and each holding moment after moment of shared life. I am hard-pressed to find the shop empty, unless I am waiting by the door when it is unlocked, and surprisingly, this comfortable-in-her-skin introvert likes it that way. I am known here. And not just by the owners and the regular guests, but also by the space.

 

Worn things remember. And as I sit at the rough-grained table by the wall, I feel its memory pulsing under my fingertips, and I sense its welcome. I do not worry about a coffee ring, or a slip of the pen, for my table has seen these mishaps before, and simply absorbs them along with the conversation that falls gently down all day long. I find myself wondering who else will sit in this chair today, what stories will be told, what secrets revealed. The table won’t tell; it knows well how to be discreet. I myself have had moments of tears here, and moments of laughter. I have met with friends who are struggling, and friends who are celebrating, and each time I sit in this place, it seems to have expanded a bit more to accommodate all that it knows.

 

I am just a small part of this quilted and shared life, lived at this table day in and day out, and I relish the juxtaposition of anonymity and familiarity.  After my hour is up and my time here is done, I will leave no recognizable trace, and yet the touch memory of this worn table will retain something of my experience, and my presence will become another piece of the fabric of this place. With each visit, I am adding to our collective memory, and I too can feel the presence of those who come before, and will come after, in never-ending rhythm.

 

I am not averse to the occasional visit to a large-scale coffee shop chain, but whenever possible I return here, to this little tucked-away location on a small side street in my hometown. I much prefer the soft memory of worn things, to the shiny, tight-fitting brilliance of the new. I prefer to be welcomed, to be remembered, and to benefit from the connectedness I feel when surrounded by these pieces of old furniture who know so much.

 

Christine Hiester is known as artist, writer, mama, wife, contemplative, and lover of coffee and chocolate.  She can be found at Choffey’s Coffee and Confection in Delaware, Ohio, on Instagram @fruitnseason, and on her blog barebranchblooming.com.

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Comments ( 12 )

  1. Jani Howe

    April 19, 2023 at 4:24 pm

    Ah, what a beautiful, serene picture, just coffee in a comfortable place, no hubbub, a quiet place to feel as if one is ‘at home’. I yearn lately for that sort of place, hard to find where I live! Thanks for that gentle reminder that there ARE such places!

  2. Christine

    April 19, 2023 at 4:24 pm

    There are, and I so hope you find one. 🙂

  3. Tisa

    April 19, 2023 at 4:24 pm

    Your heartfelt comments remind me why I gravitate towards antiques to use in my daily life. Their wear & chippy honesty evoke images of those who used them before me; time vanishes and we are all sitting at that oak round table with the five spare leaves in the closet waiting to be brought out for some fabulous get-together. I’ll think about that all day as I use my antique desk, lamp, teacup etc. Thank you!

  4. Christine

    April 19, 2023 at 4:24 pm

    “chippy honesty” Yes! I love that so much!

  5. Michele White

    April 19, 2023 at 4:24 pm

    Beautiful… beauty… truth…

    Thank you

  6. Ella

    April 19, 2023 at 4:24 pm

    Christine,
    I, too prefer the soft n’ worn~ It is heart warming to read your words. I often think of this when I touch vintage dishes, books and jewelry~ A lovely read!

  7. Dana Ruth

    April 19, 2023 at 4:24 pm

    I felt my heart growing warm as I read your words. Yes, worn places can bring comfort and peace. The familiarity of such places brings a flavor to life often lost in the hurried, new and “upbeat” shops or cafes. Finding myself in a quaint little place such as you described slows my life down; a welcome change from the pace of everyday life. Especially as I get older I am happiest when surrounded by quietness, or at least a muffled background of voices and such. I can think better, remember better and creativity flows richer when surrounded by worn, familiar places. I need to search out those experiences more often. Thank you for reminding me!

  8. Janet

    April 19, 2023 at 4:24 pm

    Sometimes it’s hard to justify loving the old things when the new is screaming ‘like me’ at you from so many places. And when family members ask ‘when are you getting rid of THAT?’. The old things are comforting and inspiring to me – the worn out places that indicate years of use, the broken and repaired bits, and even the useless items – things that the world has left behind.

  9. Judy H.

    April 19, 2023 at 4:24 pm

    Hi Christine, It is pure, wonderful serendipity that I found this particular page today. I’m not quite certain How I got here. Thank you for writing the story of me, you did it beautifully!

  10. Christine

    April 19, 2023 at 4:25 pm

    Yes, very true, and there is so much more LIFE in old things. Keep on loving those things with history, Janet. I will too. 🙂

  11. Christine

    April 19, 2023 at 4:25 pm

    Glad to “meet” a kindred spirit!

  12. Wanda Walton

    April 19, 2023 at 4:26 pm

    I just love everything about Bella Grace magazine but as I’m on a fixed income, it just isn’t in my budget. So I try to get a copy from the library. Keep doing what you do, it’s a blessing.

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