Letters of Life

Living with Age

No, it’s not because it’s that time of year. . . 

Having recently moved to dramatically different surroundings—a bungalow, not an apartment, and one that is full of relics and old books–I sense a change of mood within—it’s a lot like entering a different realm, the kind that affects your spirits and spirit. 

The age of the house you live in has a subtle effect on your moods and temperament, that’s my theory. For one thing, old houses have a gravitas that modern homes can never acquire, even if the moderns tried to ape the charm of antiquity by being furnished with antiques. That would be lamb dressed as mutton.  It would be like putting a pair of 1-carat diamond studs on the ears of a 14-year-old girl. No matter how you dress her up, those diamonds are going to look like costume jewelry; the palpable youth of the wearer lessens the weight of those dead stones.

The owners of this old house have filled the nooks and corners with their history and ultimately, their age. It is an old house, spilling over with castoffs that can’t be cast away, like old vanities, shoes (yep), hi-fi equipment, and old trophies.

I think about my apartment which I left behind to get a facelift. It had a young vibe, an energy that my children bestowed on it. You could say it was as young as its owner, but realistically, the apartment is only as old as I’ve lived in it.  A 10-year-old apartment is puerile compared to a house that’s been around for 70 years, where the owner spent her 1950s girlhood and went to the University of Singapore which was then across the road from where I’m squatting now.

Every room, even the one I’m in now, is filled to the rafters with old clothes, antique cameras, old books and magazines, even the dust is that old. The house is weighted by the histories of people long dead and gone.  Those living in it have shared their histories with those that have passed on, and as they themselves come into their golden years, the house gets older and older. Age permeates the air I breathe. 

I love old things, I always have. Old books, old furniture, even old clothes though these have to fall under the vintage category. But now, surrounded by the unknown pasts of other lives lived, I’ve been feeling strange and old myself. Not a good thing when one is approaching a milestone of sorts on the weekend.

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