Becoming a Collector

In preparation for yet another move, I finally bit the bullet, boxed up my records and stereo equipment that have not been used in years and found a place to sell them to. The first steps were easy: catalog the records, see if they are available on YouTube, and pack them in boxes. Same for the stereo: hook it up, turn it on, see what works and doesn\’t, put it back in the boxes (originals!). Oh, and check prices on Ebay.

It was going okay until the last box of records. Then the homesickness for a place and time in my past bit hard. Time is a one way street. Many of those places, people, and institutions are gone. I not only can\’t go back, I can\’t even revisit them. The cool record shop in a former bank has been replaced by a shop selling posters, tie-dyed T-shirts, and costume jewelry. Probably half the musicians, maybe the most creative half are dead. Few are still playing. Fewer still playing well.

What I hope I have found is a good home for the records and stereo equipment. That\’s why I took the time to find someone to buy them rather than abandon them at Goodwill\’s doorstep. But on the way out, I noticed the prices—$15 to $27 per record. They may be new records. I have no idea what new records go for. What would I pay to buy a special one back? Are these going to people who will play them? Or collectors who won\’t because it might reduce the resale value?

But wait, I wasn\’t playing them either. Had I turned from an enthusiast to a collector? The value to me was more emotional than monetary, but otherwise not much difference between me and the collectors I was disdaining. Moving from enthusiastic user, enjoyer, consumer to collector is a death of sorts. And I am in mourning. A piece of my life had passed away and I had not noticed. Now I notice and find it hurts. I guess there is nothing left to do but grieve.

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