When Jeff and I were poor undergrads, living in Kirksville and tending two ill-behaved felines, I used to go to garage sales a lot. It was a great way to have a day’s worth of fun for just a few dollars.
One time, at one of those sales, in that neighborhood just behind Wal-Mart on the east side of Baltimore, I found a chalkboard. It was so cute! It was the perfect size, black slate, with a little chalk tray. I loved it. But it was also $15, and in those days that $15 could literally mean the difference between eating decently for a week, or subsisting on mac ‘n cheese.
So I was good, and I didn’t buy the perfect little chalkboard, and it’s been haunting me ever since.
I just couldn’t forget about my chalkboard. I keep a list now, on my phone – a shopping list of sorts, but just of antiques I’d like to track down: a big old wooden bowl to make a centerpiece, a perfectly-sized hall mirror, a sturdy coat rack…stuff like that. And of course, the first item on that list was “chalkboard for kitchen.”
Over the years, I’ve built up big plans for this hypothetical chalkboard: it would live on the wall in my kitchen, right above Grandmother’s kitchen stool (which I still need to restore…). We’d use it to write notes and weekly menus and stuff, and Hooplings would write on it too once they’re tall enough to reach. It was gonna be awesome.
The only obstacle was, of course, that this chalkboard only existed in my mind.
So as I’ve gone through antique shops since then, I’ve always kept an eye out. I would occasionally find a board, but it wouldn’t be quite right: too small, or massively too big, or painted with chalkboard paint instead of being real slate. I even started looking at new ones online, but just about fell over backwards at the prices. My dream wasn’t worth $200, no sirree.
That takes us to last Saturday, that fateful day. Mom was in town with a friend (hi, Mary Ann!), and it was my job to chauffeur them around St. Louis. They wanted to visit one of the antique shops on Big Bend, so there we went.
It was waiting for me midway down the third aisle from the right.
The chalkboard of my dreams was right in front of me! At last! I may have screeched joyfully. It may not have been an exceedingly ladylike exclamation. I may have almost fallen over (literally) in my excitement. (No, really. I almost fell over. Mary Ann caught me. Jeff is forever in her debt.) There, right in front of me, was the chalkboard that had been haunting my every domestic daydream for years and years. And for the low, low price of $38.50 plus tax, it could be mine.
Look! It’s even double-sided! What a value!
That’s, like… ::puts on old-timey accountant visor::… $19.25 a side! What a bargain!
My hand was shaking as I handed over my credit card to the clerk. I was fairly giddy as I danced out to the car with it (if you’ve never seen an almost-8-months-pregnant clumsy redhead in cowboy boots dance with an unwieldy chalkboard, well, you’re missing out).
My excitement was shared – to a lesser scale – by my shopping companions. Mom said “Well thank god. I was so tired of looking for one of those for you!” Mary Ann said “I’m happy that you’re happy.” And when I texted a picture of my find to Jeff, he said “So are we just going to store this until we get to DC?”
Yes. We are just going to store it – along with most of our other furniture and books and pictures and “stuff” – until we get to DC. I admit, it’s maybe a bit goofy to spend hard-earned money on a thing that will spend the next year or two in a storage unit before it’s hauled halfway across the country.
But to be fair, I really wasn’t going to risk losing it again. My beloved chalkboard is mine forever now. And I’m never ever ever letting it go.
THIS is why I go antiquing, y’all. Nothing beats the rush.