Thursday, April 03, 2008

The Message I'm Sending

One of the fabulous things about getting married is that, by combining our homes and incomes, it has been possible for me to work part time. For my usual job I put in just sixteen hours a week, and while I do pick up extra jobs when possible, that sixteen hours is the standard. The rest of the time I'm left to my own obsessive compulsive organizing devices, which has mostly been positive. While I'll admit to having had a a bit of a hard time in the beginning, staring down the disorganization of this house and the many boxes of stuff that I needed to put away somewhere, it's been satisfying to see it all come together. I like making a home out of a house, making order out of chaos, creating a soft place to fall at the end of a long day. I am a firm believer that one's living space says a lot about who they are. (Which is not to say that if your living space is not all you'd like it to be that it is a negative reflection on you--perhaps it is just saying that your other priorities are more important than tidying and decorating at this point.) What I strive to say through my living space is that you are welcome here, that you can relax, that we are up for a little bit of everything. My space says that I value what others have given me, that I enjoy where I've been in life, that I like a bit of fun, and that there's no need to be so formal as to use a coaster. I don't even own coasters. I hope it also says that there is joy here; at least, that's what I've felt as each room comes together. What comes out of my mouth, though, goes more like this:


Yes, that's right, I like things from the trash. In fact, I adore them. Returning home from the gym one night, I noticed that our neighbor, Bill, had set some fine items out in the driveway of his rental property. One thing was a chair, similar to these, but with plastic wheels attached to the legs. "It's a desk chair!" I exclaimed to Jarod, "See the wheels?"

He just drove up our driveway, possibly muttering something about how those renters had disappeared after the police came calling for them, and who knows what was on that chair, maybe they even had a meth lab in the basement. The next day, while he was at work, I walked across the street and rolled it up the driveway, stowing it in the garage. It's not like it was the first time, so I figured he wouldn't be surprised. There was also the occasional table that I made him help me shove in the back seat, and then there was the end table with the built in ashtray, not to mention the small set of shelves that I'm using to stow my arts and crafts supplies. I don't think we even need to mention what I've made him carry upstairs from our basement. All these things, except for the arts and crafts shelves, I've lovingly and somewhat sloppily covered in coats of Restoration Hardware paint. If love came in a can, it would look like saffron, or buttermilk, or dusk. Together with that paint, all my trash finds have become treasures.

Today I have been painstakingly pulling the staples out of the upholstery from the seat of the desk chair so that I can recover it in the cream and soft blue damask fabric I bought for it. The wood is already coated in a buttermilk hue. I've got thick piece of foam to cut for the seat, and I've got the original quilted lining in the wash. All I need now is a staple gun, and I'll be in business. The cat keeps chewing on the needle-nosed pliers as I tug away, and I couldn't be happier.

Perhaps the real message I'm sending is more like, "It doesn't take much, does it?"

Considering that the last thing that brought me this kind of thrill was the time that I organized all the shirts in my closet by color and sleeve length, I think we know that the answer is, "Not much at all."


daysgoby said...

I love things like that - I just brought home an entertainment centre from an on-line classifieds - right now it's boring white, but soon it will be a lovely hue and someday my husband will stop muttering about 'other people's junk in my house'

(he's such a spoilsport!)

Shiz said...

You really need to hear about the Yellowknife Dump:

I think you would love it. Too bad it's so far away!

Shiz said...

that 2nd url shortened is:

holly said...

i'm assuming you've heard about freecycle, right? i just checked and it looks like they have a kansas city MO community. i LOOOOOOOOOOOVE freecycle. when i get ready for my move i'm going to be getting rid of lots of stuff. reduce, reuse, recycle, right? :)

Kristin said...

Man, so many things I can say about this post!
1.I've not ever thought about what my home says, but I like the things you are trying to say with yours, so I'm gonna come up with something.
2. I think you should show some pictures of your finished masterpieces.
3. I have my shirts organized by color, also. Awesome!