Sanelli
Sanelli

The other day when I was flipping through a magazine, a line jumped out at me:

“We fall in love with objects not only for what they are, but for what they allow us to believe we can become.”

It was three summers ago when I spotted a set of six vintage long-stem aperitif glasses at the Bigelow Block Sale. I picked one up. I blew on it, though it wasn’t dusty. I set it back down. “Ah,” I said. It was more of an exhale than a word, but I didn’t want to seem too interested.

I continued to walk up and down Bigelow because, as any shopper knows, joy is in the pursuit, not in the prize.

Unless the prize is six vintage long-stem aperitif glasses that belong to a woman who wears a turquoise pendant above the neckline of her white denim jacket. Her love, her pride for her home was obvious, but her car still had Arizona plates. All this meant to me at the time was that maybe, just maybe, she’d be moving back to the desert, and I’d be able to get a really sweet deal.

The second time I passed the glasses, I knew I had to have them, a response I have never been able to talk myself out of when it hits, and near the corner of Boston and Bigelow it hit hard.

I told myself I’d gift one to each of my friends, but every December I convince myself my friends would probably not love the fragile stems as much as I do.

The oddest thing about seeing the glasses is that during all the years I was actually looking for vintage long-stem aperitif glasses, I could never find a single one. Not at a rummage sale. Not at Goodwill or Value Village. The only one I have ever sipped from came from a display cabinet in my mother-in-law’s dining room, the cabinet that not only became the most cherished possession in my husband’s family estate, but the one that his sisters are still fighting over. The cabinet had not been left to my sister-in-law, Caren, and when she told me this, her lips quivered.

“It really hurt,” she said.

I was remembering some of the hurtful emails she and her sister sent back and forth over the cabinet as I made my way down Bigelow, when the glasses caught my eye again. The way they gleamed felt like a Big Deal.

But this is not what made me walk closer.

My own mother also had aperitif glasses. Their stems were shorter, squatter, but I can’t remember ever using them, and I have no idea what happened to them.

I don’t want to go into length about my own eccentric family, but the glasses brought back a whole stage of my girlhood. I am no longer an adult writer with deadlines of her own, but 13 again, scribbling in my diary, “so, Diary, I met this boy today and he is sooo cute.”

When I finally decide to buy the glasses, the sale is slowing down, with some people folding up their tables already, but there were my vintage glasses, unsold, flashing me their knowing smiles. I imagined that along with those smiles would be tête-à-têtes intimate and cozy as a confessional.

Some of my friends keep telling me that it’s getting too expensive to live in the city, that they need to downsize and move to who-knows-where, so I’ve decided I don’t want to burden them with any more “stuff.” I want to say that vintage long-stem aperitif glasses should never be labeled simply as “stuff,” but there is such a personal fine line between treasure and tchotchke.

Besides, I will need the entire set next Saturday, since I do believe I have become someone who will serve aperitif at her small, but stunning get-together.

Even if this is Belltown, circa 2018, which must hold the record for the fewest vintage long-stem aperitif glasses.

But I’m okay with that. I have arrived.

Mary Lou Sanelli is a writer and speaker who lives in Belltown. For more information about her and her work, visit www.marylousanelli.com.