Only subscribers may read this in its entirety. What follows is a free preview, truncated midway through.She asked me to go with her to pick out a trunk for her journey. It seemed to me like a strange request as, though neither of us had said it, we both knew that her leaving was the way we were breaking up. Even stranger was that I agreed to help her.
But I thought this might be her way of keeping things ordinary between us for a while longer. Almost from the time we met she'd coaxed me along on her shopping excursions. She avoided malls and fancy downtown stores. What she was after wasn't shopping so much as salvaging—the thrill of the hunt, the challenge of finding in a rag pile something discarded but beautiful, the triumph of saving it from obliteration. She loved junk stores, thrift shops, yard sales, auctions where every item came, like a stray cat, with a secret history. She saw herself as belonging to a subculture, the cognoscenti she called junkers.