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Empathy And Antique Stores

by Mikaela Revard

I first sense it as I walk into the far room of Then & Now, an old department store refurbished as an antique shop.

Then & Now is one of the largest buildings in Angola, Indiana—the small town in which I grew up so quietly. For at least a hundred years, there’s been whispers of hauntings in our town—some say there’s a ghost of a man who sobs quietly in the back of our tiny theater and cries out for a long, lost love. Another is the haunting of a nature preserve where a demon is trapped in one of the waters. Either way, I’ve never sensed something as strong as I have in this very antique store.

I’ve always been a little intuitive. My mother says clairvoyant, but I digress. I’ve never been wrong about the sex of a child when a relative of mine is pregnant, I have an affinity for people I’ve only met in history books, and I especially feel the energy in my favorite shop.

When I first visited Then & Now, I might have been, at the very most, fourteen years old. I had bought my first antique—a daguerreotype of a plain-faced woman I thought was more beautiful than the Mona Lisa. These had been real people. They had lived, thrived, and ultimately died in the Edwardian era.

It could be a coincidence that I feel some unease here. After all, the store is old, smells of mildew, and its floorboards creak upon walking. But it’s not spooky—it’s spiritual. I sense foreboding and mysticism just as well as I do joy and bliss. The photos on the wall seem to whisper in their frames. A 1940s typewriter I find sitting on a wooden bench gives off a vibration that is warm—it’s not the central heating.

There’s a room all the way in the back of the department store where a booth is dedicated to miscellaneous trinkets. I can’t put my finer on which item is the most seething, but I assure everyone who visits that they might experience a range of emotions when stepping foot.

I cried for the first time I entered the room. I can’t explain it properly—not in the way I want to. The room deserves much more than my jumbled thoughts. It’s a sort of melancholy, I suppose. I wonder if a woman’s heart was broken here, or if a mother received the news that her son had died in the war. Maybe someone had shopped for fine china in anticipation of their wedding day.

Maybe someone fell in love here—in the very place of which I stand.

I ponder on it for a moment and decide it’s best to let the past be. Attempting to decode energy is not in my skillset. I believe most everyone can sense the past, that all of us can recognize when our timelines overlap with another.

Empathy. I decide then that it’s empathy. Spiritualism, too, as romantic as that may sound. Humankind is touching one another even through the grains of time, our invisible tendrils converging with each other in an act none of us can explain. I hope that whoever it may have been, or whatever may have taken place in these very walls, was good and pure.

I realize then that this is why we should—must—respect antiques. They are not just things, but gifts passed down to us, their spirit teeming with our predecessors’ ambiance until the very end of time.

Then & Now is a place of therapy. It weakens and then fuels my spirit; to be detoxed of the modern world, and of my own troubles, takes me aback. The feeling can be quite liberating.

Do we sense the empathy in antique stores? Is it science? Or is it spiritualism?

Well, whatever it may be, it is definitely magic.

top photo: Giallo/Pexels

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Founded in 1993, BUST is the inclusive feminist lifestyle trailblazer offering a unique mix of humor, female-focused entertainment, uncensored personal stories, and candid reporting that tells the truth about women’s lives.

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