The Real Vintage
The decorator had come to the meeting with the bride and groom.. They were in the girl’s apartment. The moment she had arrived, the place was already curious. Then she asked the bride:
“- Do you live with your parents?”
“- No, I live alone”, she replied.
“- The place has a vintage vibe. You have a great taste!”, said the decorator.
The bride found the comment funny. The decorator could not have imagined that the style of the apartment was not a result of the particular taste of the present owner, but rather it was the accumulation of material (and immaterial) memories of the old residents – generations of the same family who spent years, months or weeks trying to start life or studying in the big city.
The layers left by time were in the paintings brought by the grandparents; in kitchen utensils, the refrigerator and the stove of the parents; on the sofa and iron beds of an aunt’s time; In a leak of the toilet, floor stains and stickers of rock bands on the wall, all extras of the the sister’s time; in the shabby piano, an element that the current resident was responsible for adding to the scene.
In In Search of Lost Time, Proust was already talking about the power of objects accumulated over time, when he felt remorse when selling the furniture of his late aunt to a brothel. The author says that the objects seemed alive, guarding trapped souls and pleading for freedom. They were furniture that held secrets about an extraordinary daily life of a woman over the years.
How much life, anguish and dream are left in an object?
As she glanced quickly at the apartment, the decorator confused the accumulation of layers of time and memory with the nostalgic desire to recreate the past. Consumption allows the opportunity to obtain (or at least try) a little of the moments and sensations that have passed, to recover glimpses of other times and the “past self.”
But if the decorator had looked carefully at the furniture and objects that contributed to the vintage style of the apartment, she would notice the stains on the floor. The termite wings on the shabby piano. Sunspots on the faded fabric of the sofa. The porcelain dishes, which looked like grandparents’ time because they really belonged to them. The grooves of the built-in cabinets, furniture with the same age of the apartment itself.
In fact, Proust was right. The objects reveal details and secrets of imprisoned souls. We just need to pay attention.