This is what it would have always come down to. I could feel it, as sweat coated my palms, that this moment was what my life had always waited for. I was casual, nonchalant at first. I hadn’t wanted to show my weakness, my hand.
Gradually, the anticipation started to build. I’m sure everyone knew — everyone could see that I was going to lose this battle. There’s no way to win when destiny is on the line. I picked the two perpetrators up, holding them side by side as if the light could shine down and give me a hint as to what to do. Which one to pick. Because in my hands, I held the most beautiful finds of my thrift shop exploration: “Checkpoint” and “Gardemariny,” two Russian films from my childhood.
My life had become a bad Mackelmore song. How was I supposed to pick? How can anyone pick between something as important and meaningful as these two discoveries? I’m no native thrifter. In fact, this was my first outing, and it was looking like I was going to leave broken-hearted either way.
“Por qué no los dos?” My fellow adventurer asked, and suddenly, my whole world shifted.
Finding something amazing while thrifting is like winning a prize. Because, believe it or not, thrifting is most certainly an art. There’s no way you can spend four hours on a Saturday morning digging through old clothes, dusty vinyls and broken appliances without despairing.
The best part comes at the very beginning of each store: You size the space, the collection of random items, brimming with possibility … and you begin your search. Some places are cooler than others, and are much more inviting. We found a working blender for $10. Magic.
But toward the middle of the shopping experience, something slightly terrifying begins to occur. I slowly started falling asleep while standing, as the fourth store we visited blurred by. Everything looked the same — I was even bored of the grandmother sweaters.
And then, like a beacon of hope, I found the Russian movies. It was as if the thrift-shop gods were telling me to keep searching. And though waking up at 8 a.m. on a Saturday was terrible, the finds were worth it.
This isn’t news to most thrifters. They scavenge the shelves and hangers in hopes of finding true gold within the rubble. But despite the awesome deals and the envious finds, the greatest thing about thrifting is the amazing opportunity to find rare, old items that hold much more value from a sentimental point of view.
Not limited to the experiences of a 6-year-old Russian, sentimental items are everywhere. They can creep up on you at Value World as you flick through books, only to stumble upon “Memoirs of a Geisha” with an insert that reads, “To David, who has only brought me hope to fill my memoirs with.” That’s real life.
Novels, films, albums — thrifting to find the finer things in life is like opening the door to a whole new thrift shop adventure. No longer focusing on the 99-cent sheets, taking time to notice the smaller, quieter things can lead to an artsy, intriguing shopping quests.
I ended up with neither Russian film, but with good reason: The longer I stared at the movies, the more I realized I loved the idea of hunting more than the result. I went on to find crazy paintings, fun posters and a book I’ve been meaning to pick up. But the movies shall remain a symbol — for everything possible to find as long as you remember to look.