Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

The Store of no Returns

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During the course of a recent few days away to take in some Stratford productions, my wife and I made the rounds of local shops in the region. While antiques have largely fallen out of fashion in large urban centres like Toronto, they remain the life blood in rural Ontario. Here, in addition to truly rare and valuable antiques, stacks of inexpensive old books and memorabilia abound.

One store I came across appeared to be run by a certifiable hoarder, so vast and congested was his collection. A veritable Noah’s Arc of Ontario past, the store extended back endlessly, room upon room, ten foot ceilings crammed to the rafters with possessions of lives past. Here, all manner of popular books, magazines and bric-a-brac lay entombed, waiting for their deliverance.

Who were the owners of these crumbling ceremonial objects? Were the dusty old copies of Life magazine and the tarnished silver tea pots intended for the long journey to the afterworld? Will these once-treasured objects turn to dust, as their owners did, or will grave robbers descend, spiriting the family relics away to an upscale boutique for sale at five times the price? Worse, will these neglected, once cherished objects of desire be defiled with puce spray paint and resurrected for a trendy twenty-something’s downtown condo?

Here, a guide to etiquette, over there an issue of Girl’s Own Annual, in the corner a dog-eared copy of Payton Place, on the shelf, a picture book of sports cars from 1910 to 1975, all objects in their dotage, sliding into a parallel universe.

Suddenly, my moment of nostalgia evaporates and the place feels claustrophobic. I fight my way back toward the light, around birdcages, stamp albums and chipped china plates. I manage to avoid the rickety cake stand but in my haste, bump into a tailor’s dummy, nearly tripping over a what-not, dislodging a stack of musty Chatelaine’s before finally stubbing my toe on a pioneer lead iron serving as a door stop. Then, after what feels like an eternity, I reach the street again, gasping for the present in the fresh morning air.

Weeks later, I am still troubled whenever I think about that storefront reliquary. Now it obvious that I was confronting my own aging in those tired, discarded objects. Still, my real discomfort lays not in seeing my collective past fading away as facing an equally diminishing future. I am not ready for that final keystroke just yet. There is too much present that I still want to explore and write about.

2 comments

Well said. Sometimes as time passes,we become our own piece of nostalgia.

Fascinating entry, David, and one I can relate to very much. In my case, I'm learning that mindfulness and "living in the moment" helps keep thoughts of my own mortality at bay.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

David Tucker

David Tucker is an award-winning television writer, producer and director. His short story collection, One Way Ticket, is published by BookLand Press.

Go to David Tucker’s Author Page