An important part of any fishing trip is the story told later about "the big one that got away." Over time, the fish looms larger in the imagination, growing in size and cunning until it reaches mythic proportions.
The same thing is true of antiquing trips. Even the most casual antique hunter can tell you of "the piece I almost bought."
My favorite spot to look for antiques is the seaside town of Essex, Mass. The place is chockablock with stores running along both sides of the main street.
About five years ago, I spotted a small, elegant, fold-top writing desk made of bird's-eye maple. The wood was a rich, honey yellow, a welcome contrast to the somber, dark oak of other furnishings. I kept going back for another look. Unfortunately, I had no need for a desk, no way to transport it, no place to put it, and no excuses to offer my husband for such an extravagance. I went home with a vase as consolation.
That desk has stuck in my mind, increasing in beauty and desirability with each year. Family and friends have stoically borne each retelling of my story. The desk now stands unequaled among furniture, a paragon of design. The one that got away.
Recently, I returned to the same shop and found a charming chest of drawers made from the same type of wood. I rolled my eyes. "Here we go again," I thought.
This time, however, I had transport, money, space, if not spousal preapproval.
I reached for the credit card. Then I stopped.
After all, why deprive myself of another good story?
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