Yesterday, while cleaning, I stood up and my shoulder connected with the glass-fronted curio cabinet. I knocked a shelf and the aforementioned cabinet entirely off the wall. There was a loud crash. It wasn’t the noise that distressed me. It was what that noise meant … that I was about to incur serious losses.
I used to collect things. Pottery — Navajo, antique Chinese and Japanese — and antique sacred Asian art (mostly statues ranging from pretty big to very tiny).
Hard-plastic strung dolls of the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s with a smattering of newer girls from the sixties. Tiny stuffed bears. Native American carved fetishes with a strong leaning towards Corn Maidens.
And art. Paintings, photographs (not just mine, but other artists). Musical instruments. Wind chimes. Teapots.
There’s more. My husband’s baseball with autographs of the entire Red Sox organization of the 1970s, including Ted Williams.
A Russian Matryoshka doll (the kind with all the little dolls inside each other).
The glass-fronted cabinet and one shelf in the living room contain many of my favorite small pieces.
With all that we gave away or sold, the house is too full. At least most of it is on shelves and (presumably) out of the way. And safe, isn’t it? We put up a LOT of shelves, pretty much anywhere they would fit. The dolls are on shelves as is pottery, fetishes, and the small bronzes.
When those two shelves crashed to the ground, first bouncing off a small table and smashing some lovely Italian glass, I could only imagine the carnage. I’m surprised anything survived. Of the two Navajo pots, one came through without harm while the other was reduced to shards.
Two very old Chinese porcelain vases– one little black one from the 12th century and another from the Jian dynasty (probably 16th century), plus a lovely little “story” dish, probably 15th century, were smashed beyond saving.
The bronzes were unaffected, though the shelf barely survived the fall.
It was my fault. Entirely. No one else did anything to cause the massacre.
It got me to pondering the transitory nature of things. Antiques would not be so valuable if they didn’t get broken, destroyed, lost through the years. If everything survived through the generations, there’s be no scarcity of ancient artifacts. This line of thought is actually not very comforting.
On the shelf, I thought they were safe. Out of harm’s way. My only enemy was the eternal, unavoidable dust settling on everything.
It turns out, I am time’s enemy.