When the world changed, now almost a year ago, my life’s habits changed with it. After many years, because I wasn’t using my backpack or pen case, my pattern of filling a few pens, using them empty, flushing them out, and swapping in different pens, came to a grinding halt. My favorite pen case, empty except for the 4” steel ruler and timsvintagepens cards that live there, moved into the desk drawer. Of course, my 1970 Montblanc 149 remains inked and on the home desk, as it has been since I stopped carrying it in 1994. My everyday/everywhere pen has been a BHR Esterbrook Dollar with a firm fine nib that I’ve used in various Esterbrooks for 15 years; its the perfect nib, tipless, long ago molded itself to my hand. Some things don’t change. However, all the others have stayed in their slotted cigar boxes, unseen, untouched, and not even considered unless they came up in conversation.
Well, until yesterday. I was in a video conversation with a wonderful craftsman I’ve met over Instagram, a technical conversation following my post showing a new lathe cutting tool I had made for turning hard rubber. He got me to pull out the cigar boxes, and together we looked at his and my favorite pens together. I didn’t admit that I hadn’t seen these pens for almost a year. However, after the conversation ended, I didn’t put them away. They all spoke to me, and not just in the “fill me/use me” sense; more, I remembered why I have them, why these 50+/- pens are there. I’ve written enough here over the years about winnowing the collection down to these, but yesterday I was very happy to see every one of them, the Parkers, American and English; the special Sheaffers; the English, French and Italian pens; my handful of modern pens. I remembered having restored every one of them, and how I obtained each, whether by purchase, trade, or present. I pulled them out at random, and they felt good in my hand.
A bit later in the evening I did finally return boxes to their drawer, but something had changed. Today, it’s raining, but the street sounds are a bit more fresh and hopeful, and it’s light both earlier and later now. Is it perhaps the feeling of a corner having been turned? Expecting to go into the office a couple of days this week, I left out an azure Vacumatic with a flexible nib to fill and put in the case.