Oh my, what a week. I think one word describes it best: intense.
I don’t want to pretend that there’s no elephant in the room because we both know it’s there, swishing its skinny little tail and knocking drinks out of people’s hands. About the elephant, for today I’m going to remain uncharacteristically quiet. Important discoveries are being made, and I don’t want to scare them off by trying to explain their meanings before I understand them. For now, I’ll say this: people are complex. I am complex. I am, perhaps, even more chameleon-like than I thought. This realization is hard for me to swallow because I consider myself to be a very honest, straightforward person. But life is strange and wonderful and sometimes hard to explain. I’m just feeling my way and hoping I don’t hurt too many people as I fumble around in the darkness.
If that explanation is too vague to be satisfying, I offer my apologies. I’m sorry. I can’t offer anything more than that, and it’s not because someone has put a gag order on me. But I will come back to the elephant after the fog clears. For now, we all have to sit tight and wait.
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I know that true happiness doesn’t come from possessions, but after waiting seven years to buy living room furniture, it’s hard for me to believe it.
I like to keep my word, so when I promised my friend Nicole that I would buy some sort of furniture before the end of June, I knew that I would keep that promise. Purchasing furniture has been a surprisingly difficult task for me. Part of the problem is that I feel like I have no interior decorating skills. I don’t have a “vision,” and I’m not a very visual person. By that, I mean that I tend to experience the world more through my emotions and other senses. That’s part of the reason I was able to write this blog for over two years with almost no photos. The words were enough for me. I also have a bad habit of not living in the present. My mind is always off recreating some past adventure or dreaming of what we’ll do next year. The result is that it’s easy for me to look past appearances right now because I’m not really living in the now. I’m somewhere else, doing something else.
When I bought furniture for my old apartment, my Evanston home, I learned the power of making a home by investing in it. My new kitchen table and chairs made my kitchen feel like a place that I wanted to linger, a place to invite friends for tea and cookies. In the years after that set of purchases, I had many friends over for cookies, for dinners, for anything at all. I hosted overnight guests, and we would gather round the table in the morning for tea or pancakes or scrambled eggs. (My heart still sings when I think about this lovely visit with my sister, and the way we keep finding each other again in kitchens—mine, our sister-in-law’s, or, soon enough, her kitchen in her very first apartment.) Furniture matters because furniture turns a living space into a home. In this way, it transcends the label of “possession” to become something that builds families and friendships, one meal at a time.
In the end, I decided to trust my own taste and buy something that appealed to me. One of the things that really intimidates me about setting up a new home is this sense that you must have an idea of what you want things to look like at the end of the process. Because of my lack of vision, I just don’t have that. My vision is more of a vague sense of what I like and don’t like. I wanted my home to feel cozy and comfortable, where guests can relax and enjoy themselves. I want my home to welcome me back at the end of a workday.
These are the things that I like: natural materials, like wood, glass, and stone. Bright colors, like blues, reds, and yellows. A balance between cozy and spacious. Geometric lines—rectangles rather than ovals. Things that have been lovingly given to me by my family, like Big Blue, my couch, which used to belong to my brother’s boyfriend or the rug that my sister bought for me when I moved into my first apartment. I am a sentimental person, living far away from my loved ones, and I like how my home is filled with things that connect me to my family.
That’s Big Blue up there, right behind my new coffee table. On the far end of Big Blue, you can see one of the matching end tables. I found these three pieces as a set here; they were even on sale! I was also considering this set, so I got a second opinion on the two options. My sister Theresa voted on the first option, and I just knew that she was right. So I ordered living room furniture, and on Wednesday, it arrived.
This is what my living room looks like a few steps beyond the main entrance. (In the other photo above, you get a view from the patio side of things.) I love how inviting it feels to me with all that sitting space and surface space for drinks or snacks or a few books. Also, the coffee table is conveniently hiding the part of my rug that is in tatters and keeps threatening to trip people when they walk over it. I still like that rug and haven’t decided if it’s something I want to replace. For now, I’ll keep it.
The best way that I can describe my home improvements is that now it feels like a grown-up lives here. I have spent so many years as a student that it was hard to believe that I’d ever get to a point in my life when I didn’t feel like I was waiting to be done with school. Now, I am done. I’m even a little annoyed when people ask me, “So how is school going?” Because they don’t know how much it means to me to be DONE with school. I loved being a college student, but by the time I’d been in grad school for three years, I wanted to finish school and shed my student status. Having a grown-up’s home makes me feel like I’ve finally arrived at a point where I can stop saying, “When I’m done with school, I’ll…” I am here. I am home.
Happy Saturday, friends. I’ll see you back here tomorrow with tomatoes in hand.