Sunday, October 18, 2009

Two and a Half Years

It has been two and a half years since anything has hung on our walls. We moved out for a year long remodel and the owners of the house we rented were fussy enough that we didn’t want to hang anything on the walls. It was not big deal because we didn’t really have the energy for extras. We packed away wall hangings for the duration of our remodel.

Then when we returned to our house in July of last year, the boxes sat in the living room. Framed photos and art. I was tired from moving twice in one year and having a baby in the meantime. I couldn’t muster the energy to hang things all around the house.

And the walls were sooooo pretty. It was almost impossible to think about banging nails into them. So was the whole house, though. New floors with nary a scratch. Perfect cabinets. Clean windows. Smooth counters. It felt too fancy for us. It was like someone accidentally gave me a Tiffany necklace when I was meant to have the JC Penney version.

I also worried what others might think of us when they saw our sparkling new, big house. Would they think that I am Tiffany fancy? Oh, don’t mind this big house, I would think, we are really JC Penney people. For goodness sakes, my kids’ favorite place to shop is the Goodwill.

Slowly, I have gotten used to the compliments we receive for our beautiful house. It really is lovely and I do appreciate how nice it is. I also have decorated it in my own Goodwill style, so I trust that people see the real me when they look around –and not some imposter who keeps her house clean and perfect and lives in the pages of a magazine.

We have also slowly banged up the cabinets, and floors. Someone chipped the counter. Several spots on the counter have stained. It’s a patina, I tell myself. Rather than a flaw, it shows patterns of use and reflects a house that is lived in.
And boy do we live in it. On any given day there may be oodles of kids running amuck, guinea pig poop and hay on the floor, insects in jars on the counter, science experiments in the kitchen, and art projects on the dining room table.

Our youngest child even drew with crayons on the pristine white window sills by the kitchen table. And now that our youngest is getting into the messy and destructive phases of life, it’s hard to be too concerned about keeping things perfect. There is something about having a two year old painting at the kitchen table that really loosens me up about messes.

So, this month, we unpacked the wall hangings. There are pictures of my children that they themselves did not remember or recognize. I revisited pictures of my past before children, friends from law school and college, my pet cat that grew up with me, and passed grandparents. It was like unpacking old friends. Eric and I hung the pictures around the house and found places for all of the photos. Once the first nail was banged into the wall, it was easy to muck of the rest of them.