Pre-loved, a classier way of referring to something that belonged to someone else before you got your hands on it. This can be anything – books, clothes, shoes, furniture, all sorts of knick-knacks. They are called other names too like second-hand, junkyard bargains, garage sale treasures, salvation grubs, or “ukay-ukay” as how we Filipinos like to call the goods that we literally scour through a pile. For me, there’s nothing more intriguing than pre-loved items and this probably explains my obsession for purchasing such, instead of buying new (expensive and labeled) ones. Don’t get me wrong. I fall for the trap of ‘branded’ consumerism too, but not as often as some people I know.

Why do I find them intriguing? Simple – they have stories to tell. A second-hand book for instance, other than its appealing price tag, narrates two stories. One, is that of the author’s and two, is that of the previous owner (or owners). The notes written on the book shares the journey of the person before you – who he or she was, where he or she had been, or what he or she went through. Some notes even immortalized another person who decided to give the book as a gift. If notes were not found, the library stamps, burnt sides, or liquid blotches can be the giveaway that maybe one reader decided to relax at a coffee shop somewhere or a lover unknowingly dashed his Cuban cigar because he was not paying attention. Even the smell of an old book gives you a tale of some kind; and although we may not get the whole story, the fact that there is more than one, is reason enough to find it intriguing.


I understand the scary notion attached to purchasing pre-loved items. Notions like – what if the ‘red’ splattered on the book was the blood of the previous owner who was murdered (okay, maybe this example is too morbid for your taste), what if the clothes you bought in the second-hand store were the last clothes worn by the previous owner before he or she had an accident (morbid again), what if the pumps you were now wearing previously belonged to that girl who whisked your boyfriend away and left you cursing at the world for months (I don’t know if this ever happened to anybody but this was the only non-morbid example I can think of).

I truly understand the dilemma or that crazy belief of disassociating yourself from anything negative that may be passed on through such items but seriously, what were the chances of our ‘what-ifs’ being at least 88% true? If they were indeed fact-based, don’t you think it’s ridiculous to carry an old wife’s tale in your head? We harness our own energies – positive or negative, and foreign objects have merely a speck of influence on the results. Besides, I don’t believe in dwelling on the last moment. The last moment is just the final piece to the puzzle, the other pieces are just as important. Maybe that book was given by a father to a daughter as his way of relaying a lesson and that the ‘red’ was purely accidental when he was painting. Maybe the clothes were the product of the previous owner’s first paycheck. Maybe, maybe.

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The concept of pre-loved can be referred to people also. Whether we admit it or not, we have all been pre-loved.

We have all been brand new in the beginning but our experiences with other people have marked us in countless ways that we somehow lost track of the fact that we belonged somewhere at some point.  At some point, we collected versions of ourselves that may have nailed us to one, two, three, or more people. At some point, we too were carried, worn, used, adored until such time when our purpose had ran its full course. At some point, we had to let go or we did the letting go because we were needed elsewhere. At some point, we were forced to present ourselves in opportunities because other silly pre-loved people thought that we were too dog-eared, worn-out, or broken to even be considered interesting; or on other circumstances, we didn’t even have to try because we stumbled upon those who have the penchant for dog-eared, worn-out, or broken things.

Now, isn’t that intriguing?

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