I’ve always considered myself a bit of an adventurer. True, I’ve never scaled Mt. Kilimanjaro, skied a black diamond slope (or any slope), or snorkeled in the Great Barrier Reef. I’m an indoorsy girl who prefers temperature-controlled environments and easy access to refreshments. My modest adventures generally take place at antique malls, gift shops, used bookstores, flea markets, rummage sales, or thrift stores. There is so much to be discovered on a small scale, so many worlds covered in layers of dust. (These don’t include the literary quests I take. But that’s for another post.)
A voage to St. Vincent De Paul’s
My most recent buried treasure came from a thrift store across town. My friend calls it the Happy Place because of the quality and selection of its goods. I agree with her–it’s never failed to deliver.
This last visit was no exception. I was excited to find a $3 lap blanket that matched one I already had, but I was positively stoked to find a $4 vintage train case. I collect those, and usually pay around $30 for a nice one. Believe you me, I was going to surf that adrenaline high the whole 45 minutes back home.
On my way to check out, however, I realized I’d missed the aisle with frames and lamps. My excitement and reasoning evaporated on the spot. If I failed to browse that last aisle my purpose in life would crumble. There would be no point in going on. No hope for humanity.
As I turned my cart around, I told myself I was doing this for the global good. For how on earth could I let my little light shine if I ignored the lamps? (Mind you, I just gave my sister three table lamps because my house is so well lit.)
It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a cake?!
Immediately on the right, sitting at eye-level, was the most peculiar lamp I’d ever encountered. “What the hell is that?!” popped out of my mouth before I could even blink. I pulled my cart closer and reached for the curiosity. Someone should have labeled it–parts are not connected–because I almost broke it before I had a chance to see what it was about.
Once I had a firm grip, I tried to make sense of the thing. It was clearly handmade, and it was old-I could tell by the wiring. The layers were very reminiscent of a wedding cake. They looked to be fashioned out of plaster, and the paint was chipping off around the full circumference. Strands of ‘pearls’ encircled each layer but weren’t tacked down. It felt like the lamp was trying to throw me Mardi Gras beads any time I moved it. What I found most interesting was the lamp’s stand. The metal layer that each cake sat on had decorative protrusions–a kind of metal filigree. They very much resembled the art of paper quilling. I guess I’m bad at shapes because I don’t know what to call the bulb that sat perched atop the atrocity. But I don’t think it matters what kind/shape of bulb you’d use–It just sits there like an afterthought. Weird, because IT’S A LAMP.
So, I’m standing there captivated by this thing. Was it ugly? Yes. Was it bizarre? Absolutely. Was it completely fascinating? Incredibly so! It was fabulous and enchanting, and I couldn’t put it down. What I held was truly a one-of-a-kind treasure, something that I’d never see again. Better yet, there was a story to this lamp. Someone crafted this lamp and kept it for a long time. Why? What was their inspiration? Even more interesting, how did it end up at the thrift store? Did its maker die, leaving it along with other household items to be rehomed? Did someone inherit it, hate the thing, but couldn’t bring themselves to throw it away? Is it an alien life form?
Obviously, it came home with me. How could it not? I mean, it’s an $8 writing prompt literally served to me on a platter. I didn’t really connect the dots until I got home, but of course I’d be drawn to it. It’s a vintage cake lamp! It checks almost all my boxes. And I can add the literary element myself by stacking it on some books or listening to an audio book when it is on. I just have to keep it unplugged–it’s a serious fire hazard.
I don’t always find treasures like this on my adventures. But looking is half the fun, and creating a backstory is also excellent. All that is left for me to do is name it. Have any ideas?