Old Underwood manual typewriter, covered in dust. Possibly capable of casting spells.


I’ve got friends who are nuts about auctions. They’re also good at keeping their favorites secret. I end up cruising swap meets big and small, or browsing a favorite vintage store or two.

I discovered this week that small-time auctions have moved online. My search for a secondhand, non-stolen ladies’ bike netted me a folder of new bookmarks. “Downsizing” is the word I look for.

“Estate Sale” gets me spending more time looking at the former homeowner’s stash of curios, nice linens and other things one collects when one seldom moves house.

The estate collections soon have me wishing I’d known the owner. Clearly, a visit to these curators would mean tea in pristine china, the linen napkin draped nearby. Our conversation would gently move to light on the bookcases of writings standing at soldierly attention, listenly discreetly for their cue to chime in. The afternoon nods along with a clock’s soft chime.

No phone would dare interrupt us with a ring! Only a favorite record sounds, playing scratches along with the song. Yet “Estate” means a story has ended; an opportunity, lost…

I rouse myself and type “Typewriter” into the search bar, following a dear friend’s passion as the results fill the page. Best not send a link to this site. Every letter I get from this merry dryad rustles with a new (or newly repaired) addition to the family. The enclosed letter is on recycled household paper, its author describing the tribulations that came before. The letter itself is a victory over filled-in letters or reasons why some keys have, in actual fact, decided not to strike.

I live for these letters and their enclosed pressed leaves and drawings. I can’t believe I’m so lucky to get these. It’s right up there with an afternoon tea.

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