An Ode to All Things Old

Gazing fondly at one of the cuffs on my favorite sweatshirt, faded, frayed and stained though it is, I can only think what a reliable old friend that shirt has been for a lot of years. I can’t remember where or when I bought it or what color it used to be; too many wearings, too much soap and bleach.

The inside, once soft and fleecy, has been worn down to the point where it’s barely recognizable, something like its owner. I’m afraid I’m showing the wear and tear of too many years, too. Still, I love my old shirt and I’ll wear it until it hangs off my shoulders in tatters. Maybe we’ll wear out completely together.

I love old stuff, not necessarily antiques, although antiques are treasured by most people, especially when  they’ve been lovingly maintained. They’re beautiful, but a bit rich for my tastes. I just happen to like trashy old things, JUNQUE, if you will. Old furniture, old clothes, comfortable shoes, old music, beat-up cars, little old houses, the list goes on.

I’ve had a dress for so long it’s in style again for the third time. Originally a fabric called crepe de chine, it more closely resembles lace now, and the color has gone from a vibrant blue to kind of a wishy-washy gray. It’s beautiful. And let’s hear it for the good old songs, too; they just don’t write them like “Mairzy Doats” any more. The term “tin can” suits my car, and my house is a wreck. So who cares?

I like tried and true, reliable, well-loved, shaped and worn to fit, years-out-of-date stuff. Nothing can be too old. Give me a day of browsing Yard Sales, dusty Pawn Shops, Used Book Stores and dirty Junk Yards and I’m a happy person. Good honest dirt never hurt anyone.

Recently I came across the phrase “Re-cover, Re-paint, Re-purpose.” It resonated with me. Why can’t we use that phrase for people too? They could use a bit of spiffing up, re-painting and re-covering. They may not respond to re-purposing but they do endure.

Old people are my absolute favorites. Being one myself has obviously influenced me; at least, I rather like to think so. I can appreciate the wrinkles, the long pauses in conversations, the unsteady gait, the endless accounts of medical visits and surgeries and the precious family pictures pulled out of old wallets for the umpteenth time. Comfort has a lot to do with this.

What could be more satisfying than a few hours spent listening to the same old stories, told by the same old friends, people I’ve known for years, as we lounge around in our tacky old shirts and jeans. We could finish one another’s stories, we’ve heard them so often. My sweatshirt has been in on more discussions than a pair of wingtips in Congress.

Obviously “old”  has become my favorite adjective and I use it with pride. I have friends dating back to grade school days. How’s that for tried and true? Sure, we’ve changed, who hasn’t, but we still recognize one another and share some good laughs. We’ve grown into the big ears and knobby knees of our school pictures, learned a few things, forgotten a lot more, outgrown embarrassments, forgiven slights and are finally comfortable with who we are.

There’s nothing wrong with “new”;  where would we be without something new coming into our lives every so often?  “New”  replacing “old”  is what makes the world go around, but please, let’s not replace everything, at least not right away.  We old people will be recycled soon enough; let us enjoy each other and our precious old treasures as long as we can.  I’d like to get at least another five years out of this sweatshirt.

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