"Are you in search of precious metals?" was the question as she came down the stairs, arms full of various shelving pieces. It was delivered with a heavy accent, as if dropped like a quote from a murder mystery. I'd be guessing if I tried to identify the language that the English was draped with. But what the hell-- I think it was Russian? I don't know-- my CIA skill set has never really been steadily developed.
"Unfortunately, no," I chuckled, with atrophied cleverness.
The conversation would end there. At least, between the two of us. But inside my head, it was only beginning.
I stumbled around inside my mind, fumbling with words, wondering more about the accent. Maybe it was French. I reaffirmed that I didn't know. All the while, I was continuing, walking away from her, never to converse with her again.
Then something shiny caught my eye; some sort of clip glistened at my feet, its gold and silver finish sparkling in the sun.
Precious metals. Indeed.
I bent over and picked up the metal object and placed it in my saddlebag pocket in my cargo type pants. A practice that I've replicated a hundred times over the last several years.
"I guess I am looking for precious metals," I thought, wondering why I had told the woman differently.
It was an article about found objects that started me looking at the ground more. And then it was an article on James Hampton, a quiet custodian who collected bits of foil and tin and assorted "refuse" and assembled "The Throne", an elaborate artwork that was discovered only after his death. It got me to start thinking about the hidden qualities in life-- and started me investigating the true meaning of value.
So I started noticing, while I was walking around, through parking lots and alleyways, all of the little things that are left behind, on purpose or by accident. And I started to collect some of them. I have tended to be drawn towards the dilapidated, rusted, and marred. And almost exclusively metal-- bottle caps, wire, shop scrap, etc. I've had the idea that I'm amassing a collection that I will one day assemble into some machine or diorama that brings all of these lost souls together, making it whole again.
So upon further review, I think I am in search of precious metals. At least, I'm trying to define what it is precious really means.