Late one night while lurking the internet, I came across a paranormal phenomenon/psychic ability called “psychometry,” a word coined by a dude called Joseph Rodes Buchanan in 1842 that literally means “to measure the soul.” Also known as “token-object reading,” psychometry is a form of extrasensory perception that allows a person who comes into contact with an object to intuit intimate details about its history based on the “energy” it radiates. This idea appealed to me immediately. I knew I had found the answer to why I’m obsessed with vintage shopping: What I’m looking for when I’m thrifting is not something left untouched in a sealed box, but rather, well-worn possessions that have been lived with, cared for, and used. What I value most in the tangible things found in thrift shops is the emotional imprints of their past owners. I don’t consider myself particularly talented in psychometry—unfortunately, I don’t have any psychic abilities! So, when I’m doing my own reading of an object, I just use my imagination instead, which is wonderful in its own right. The origin stories I ascribe to these found treasures appear to me like scenes from a film I’ve never seen. I get to make the lives these things lived before falling into my hands as interesting as I please. Here are some pieces from my amateur-psychometry collection.
Patch of Pebbles from The Flinstones: I found this patch slipped between the pages of a book at a second-hand store. It was dirty, frayed, and faded but, in my mind, it was perfect. I like to imagine it was sewn on the flap of a girl’s backpack in the ’70s. As she started high school, she became self-conscious about it, because she saw it as a symbol of her childhood. One morning, she quietly ripped it off before her mom noticed, hiding it within the pages of a book no one ever read on the family book shelf for safe-keeping. She never retrieved it.
Record that someone drew a moustache on: Upon finding this, I laughed out loud—it emanates such feel-good vibes. A mischievous child probably drew on this facial hair, curious of what the consequences of their actions might be. Perhaps they got sent to bed without dessert!
Psychedelic ashtray: I don’t smoke, but when I saw this for a mere $2, I knew it had to be mine. I keep knick-knacks like coins and buttons in it, but I like to imagine all the crazy drug-fueled parties, filled with beatniks and flower children, that it saw in its heyday. Perhaps someone famous butted out their cigarette in it, like Mick Jagger, when he toured Australia (where I found this) in the ’70s. Anything’s possible, right?
Found postcard: I found this absolute killer at a seaside market during a vacation. My ex-boyfriend and I had recently broken up, and it almost seemed as though it was planted there by some strange god of psychometry just for me to find. It’s sad and bittersweet, but it was helpful in that it allowed me to appreciate what once was. I will always treasure this postcard, as I’m sure the person who it was sent to originally did also. Sigh! ♦