As my brother recently said, if you ever hear me say I got something for free, it's a good bet I need a shower. Because that means I've been in somebody's trash.
He said it with a disgusted look on his face, like we're too good of people to be dumpster diving, but I think if someone is going to set something out on the curb and it's good enough to save, I ought to do my best to save it.
It's something I've done quite a bit of, particularly lately. I raided my neighbor's house after he moved out, hours before the movers came with the new neighbors' belongings. For Christmas, I found an old chair and turned it into a cow stool for my nephew. The family across the street was throwing away a toddler basketball hoop and baseball set, so I picked those up because that same nephew is going to want them. He's just about big enough.
And a few weeks ago, a family was obviously ridding their house of everything "radioactive green" and put an absolute trove of treasure out at the street. I restrained myself and came home with a hexagonal wooden table, with hidden storage (the kind my mother had paid good money for at a flea market a few years before) and a shadow box.
Except for being radioactive green, there's not a lot wrong with them.
I'm looking forward to getting to work on that table. I'm looking forward to stripping it down, building it back up, finishing it smooth and putting it under my window with my bromeliad on top - and my cd collection inside. If you've been reading very long, you know that I love this kind of stuff, this labor of love, this work of my hands that builds something. Whether it's something old or something new or something about to be made new again.
I come by it honest, as they say. The recliner in my living room has my dad's receipt from the lumber yard stapled to the back, still on the 1x2 he bought so many years ago to tack that chair back together. And my mother has a three-legged vanity lying in storage until she can find a fourth leg for it (or her daughter can turn her one). She brought that home last year. It's just how I am and how I've always been - if there's still life in something, bring it back. Restore it. Refinish it. Reclaim it.
I count myself very blessed at the awesome, cool, quality things I am able to have by salvage. Because Lord knows I could never afford them on my writer's salary. (Yet.)
At the same time, as I sat the other day and thought about my new green, but not for long, table project awaiting me in the basement, I experienced a tinge of sadness followed by an agonizing frustration. Sometimes, I think, I just want something that I don't have to make myself.
I want something that's already ready for me, something I don't have to save. I want something that doesn't need taken apart and put back together. I want something that doesn't need stripped down and polished up. This old stuff is awesome, but I want something that nobody has ever had before. Something that is mine - that is mine by its nature, that I don't have to make mine.
I want something new.
I think we all have these times in our lives where we're just looking for something new, something special, something awesome that is ours. I hit that place the other day, for a fleeting moment, although the feeling kind of lingers. It's nice to think about - something new. Something uniquely mine, made and meant for me. Even, it seems, if it was mass-produced and I just plucked it off a shelf. That's how desperate I am sometimes for something new.
Then I wake up and there's something new every morning. There is a God who has created this morning just for me - for my eyes, for my ears, for my hands. He has created something special, something unique, something made for me that I do not have to make my own; it's just mine. It couldn't be anyone else's. So I'm relishing these days taking that in, too. Wrapping myself around the "new" God's created just for me.
Which starts most days in the mirror as He makes something new in me....and ends most nights in the same place as He promises the same for tomorrow. And in between, something else entirely - this beautiful mix of old and new that becomes mine, is somehow mine, and somewhere the line blurs between old and new and about to be made new again. And it all just is. And it's all just mine. Because it's all Him.