I saw the most amazing home decor accessory this weekend — a strip of gold cloth artfully laid across the coffee table.
It’s not that draping fabric is so unusual, at least not in my place. I mean, there are jackets on the floor, socks stuffed in corners, t-shirts lolling languorously wherever a person still claimed as a dependent on the IRS form spontaneously disrobes.
But these are accidental occurrences, not deliberate acts of artful embellishment. Only in a place where there are no children can one arrange textiles, and books, dishes, even toys, as if they had been indifferently set down by an actual fun-sized human — it gives the place that dynamic, vibrant, lived-in touch.
Except that in an actual dynamo-infested, lived-in place, a strip of gold cloth will not remain where you spent ten-minutes arranging it, immediately being snatched to wrap around the cat as a bow, or balled up as an emergency pot holder, or wiped across the floor when someone kicks the dog’s water dish.
Interestingly, the jackets, the t-shirts, the socks, the towels on the floor — these never move. They increase, like fruit flies, but they never move.
Actually, I’m really not that into making my home look like something you’d see in a magazine, and you know perfectly well what I mean — not the news mags with their post-disaster shots of weather phenomena, although it feels that way sometimes, doesn’t it?
One time, I spent an hour or so dusting off the sofa table and arranging my Polish pottery teapot and tea cups and plates (we’re talking 10 items here) in an informal, pleasing display suggesting that we had just offhandedly set the pieces down. Ten minutes later Eldest Supreme walks in with Toddler and drops a magazine, two diapers, package of wipes, leather purse and a plastic drinkie cup, all over my carefully constructed informal exhibit.
It didn’t look casual, artistic, or deliberately unstructured. It looked messy. And, as the day went by and additional people walked in and out the door, it grew with that day’s mail, a half-consumed can of pop, the dog’s leash, a couple pairs of sunglasses that nobody claimed (must be the dog’s), and the newspaper.
And that’s just the sofa table.
It reminds me of something a friend who works in retail said,
“This job would be so much easier if it weren’t for the customers.”
Not only keeping the house clean, but life in general, would be so much easier if it weren’t for the people involved.
Messy, insensitive, thoughtless, sock-dropping persona who clutter our lives with their joys and sorrows, leaving behind unwashed bowls in the sink from the birthday cake they just baked for our special day, these people are the reason that our houses do not look like something out of a magazine or a movie set, but rather, like the interior of our kitchen cupboards.
Or at least, like the interior of my kitchen cupboards, which are not modular, tidy, organized, or alphabetized, a state of dis-being I lamented about aloud in College Girl’s presence.
“Seriously, Mom — when people start talking about organizing their kitchen cupboards, they’ve either broken up with a boyfriend or lost their job or totaled their car or something. Surely you’re not at that state?”
Not quite. Close.
But I can cope — I’m thinking that a strip of gold cloth, artfully stuffed in the interior of the cabinet, will add just the touch needed. That, and closing the door.
Middle Aged Plague is on Kindle!
Carolyn, I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoy your posts. This one was full of my memories of a 6 person household. I’m alone now, and have discovered I even had a part in the mess. Your writing is delightful. Also, this is the first I noticed that the Norwegian artist has his paintings large and centered. I like that better. Really shows them off.
Judith — thank you for your kind words, and I’m glad that the Norwegian Artist’s paintings showed up well — I’m not sure what I did differently. Sounds like my cooking — I never can replicate a dish.
I am glad that the story brought back sweet memories — that’s the exchange: chaos and mess with people around. I’m still in that stage, but I know that it will end, all, all too soon.
Alas, I’m doing the empty nest thing at the moment, and it’s worse. Maybe I was the problem all along? No, I remember living alone and no matter how low the rent, the inside looked pleasing, homey, comfortable, something good. Now it looks like I live in the back room of Good Will. Maybe it’s the painting all the time. It’s like that book title I saw, “Busy Woman Needs Wife.” I stopped doing the “Wife” role.
As long as I’ve got others in the house, I can keep blaming them for the mess. But seriously, I do not drink beverages at the computer table, fling large plastic beads about, and miss the wastebasket.
Ah well –it’s warm, dry, paid for, and comfortable.
I hear you — I’d rather be creating than cleaning!