Sitting in front of my computer, my finger poised above the touch pad, I watched the seconds count down. I'd already bid and was waiting for the seven to flash before I confirmed. I considered whether I'd bid enough, whether I should make a last minute change, whether there was anything else I could do to guarantee the winning of the item on my screen. Seconds later, after the figures on the screen shifted and I held my breath, I learned I had won the bid.
Actually last night I won three bids, after a number of unsuccessful attempts in the weeks before, and my sense of accomplishment and glee was way bigger than buying opera glasses, a Victorian parasol and an asparagus plate might account for.
As Mark's antique business has grown, so has my involvement. At first I was the cheerleader and decorator and sounding board. We'd prowl shops and shows and find the most unusual and arcane Victoriana at amazing prices. He'd send me pictures of his case and I'd offer feedback. I'd drive friends north to show off his hard work.
Before long I found myself driving two hours each way on a Tuesday to go to auction with Mark where he acts as though I'm a full partner instead of just a helpful sister. I get so caught up in the excitement of the auctioneer's yodel and watching my brother acquire merchandise for his business, I find myself wanting to applaud - which is of course not done at auction. Every time Mark wins a bid, it feels like a game won at least as much as an object purchased.
Our fellow bidders provide another source of pleasure - each one offering the promise of story: the bald man with his head completely tattooed; the old man who comes every week carrying his pomeranian; the mysterious couple who seem to buy everything without caring about the cost - one night alone spending over $10,000 on little things. The culture of auctions and antiquing draws an interesting assortment of characters, which deeply satisfies the storyteller in me.
One auction Mark surprised me with my own Angelwings Antiques business cards (I'm officially a buyer now).
At my suggestion he started a blog for the business, and then signed me up as an administrator (I may have hinted at the benefits to him). While there's little I like better than having my fingers in a bloggy pie, I enjoy even more reading my brother's stories and watching him in his glory as he teaches us what he's learned about the Victoriana he loves so much.
At some point he invited me onto his eBay site. I was encouraged to add items to his watch list and even to bid if something caught my eye. One of my favorite things is to find arcana that he hasn't seen before. If you go to the blog, the sardine box was my discovery. We found the pancake warmers together. He spotted the condensed milk containers.
Just a couple of weeks ago he called to tell me a space opened up at the antique mall where he rents his case and asked what I thought. The expansion means a shift in focus, and more work, as well as a bigger risk. He moves in (we move in) the last week of May. Our conversations are now full of planning for this next step, and excitement that it's actually going to happen.
For me this experience is one of pure and simple pleasure with no risk, no pressure and no pain. I get to indulge my love of antiques in a unique way. I get to shop and spend someone else's money. I get to immerse myself in the learning and people and language of a new culture. Best of all I'm watching someone I love with all my heart follow a path on which he thrives and glows with success. A success that not so long ago seemed impossible. A success measured by the heart and soul, not by mere worldly standards.
I invite you to visit us - Angelwings Antiques - either on the blog or at Tacoma Antique Center. Stop by the end of May and grab a paint brush as we create the perfect background for Mark's treasures, or be one of the first to shop our new home in Space 24. An endeavor begun with such faith and grown in the soil of deep joy is sure to bring light to anyone who enters in.