When I was a child - maybe 10 or 11 - my parents, for a fleeting moment, decided to look at houses. They quickly came to the conclusion that the one we already lived in was perfectly wonderful - and to this day, they still live there. I am so glad they made that choice, because I love our house and can't imagine having grown up any place else.
But I remember the glorious feeling of looking through a house that wasn't already and might never be but could maybe be yours, of imagining actually living there, of moving throughout the space, a maze of exciting twists and turns and places to discover, thinking about, this is where I'd put my bed, this is where I'd put my desk, my glorious collection of stuffed animals, my art supplies, etc. etc. (again, I was 10 and my world revolved around my room). In all of the houses we toured, I for the most part remember only the bedrooms (one was pale pink with built-ins that seemed very sophisticated, and I wanted to live there; and another had wall-to-wall shag carpeting that was the color of Astroturf -- a boy's room -- and I sort of wanted to live there too).
But there was one house in particular, the house that I begged and pleaded my parents to get (because I didn't understand any of those adult things like finances and mortgages and practicality and the pros and cons of living in Kansas versus Missouri). It was the house with the pale pink bedroom, which was of course a selling point (so many sophisticated shelves upon which to put my Troll dolls!). But the real reason I begged and pleaded was because, on the outside, in the backyard, it had this truly wonderful feel of a secret garden, with a gated wrought-iron fence, and huge, shadow-casting trees and meandering stone paths and an aged brick patio and lush all-encompassing greenery everywhere. I could imagine being out there with my black FAO Schwartz art box (oh, how I loved that thing - do they still make those?), drawing what I saw and digging about in the dirt. I was an only child and loved finding little beautiful hiding spots, particularly out in the yard, that I could sort of be in and make my own.
And on the inside of this gorgeous house, there was something that I had never seen before and that, to this day, I still dream about: hand painted wallpaper in the dining room. I didn't know what de Gournay was at the time, but this must have been de Gournay. It was truly the most glorious thing I had ever seen. It had that touch of Chinoiserie, with pastels and ropes of flowery stems creeping up the walls, like the wall itself was a trellis, and gorgeous, blooming flowers and butterflies and hummingbirds fluttering about and cranes meandering amongst the scenery. In many ways, it was like having an indoor version of that secret outdoor garden. Less nooks and crannies to hide in, but you could still walk about the room, running your fingers across the papery beauty, surrounded by art and the best possible interpretation of the outdoors.
Fast forward to now. I went to a movie solo last night -- one of my favorite indulgences. All in, it cost me, like, $40 dollars, but was so worth it. Matt was out of town, I'd been suffering from a migraine (still am) and so I thought maybe a little escapism would be good for me and decided to see Wild. I'd just devoured the book a few weeks ago -- seriously, so wonderful; read it now -- and thought it fitting to see the movie alone since it was about a woman's solo trek up the Pacific Crest Trail.
I bought a popcorn and a massive soda water and ate my popcorn indulgently kernel by kernel and laughed and cried a little bit self-consciously in the nearly empty theater until I looked around and saw that the only people in the theater were also solo movie goers like me, and then I laughed and cried with confidence and it was cathartic.
In the movie, there was a sort of recurring theme, something that Reese Witherspoon (Cheryl) said, which was something Laura Dern (Cheryl's mom) used to say to her, and I cannot for the life of me remember if it was in the book (and because of this pesky migraine, I'm not about to do the research to find out), but it was a really wonderful philosophy on life:
"There’s a sunset and a sunrise every day. You can choose to be there for it. You can choose to put yourself in the way of beauty.”
Let's be honest. I'm not going to be putting myself in front of a sunrise or a sunset anytime soon in the middle of winter in New York. But I can look at beautiful imagery. I can still put myself in the way of beauty.
When I get migraines -- and those of you who get them may agree -- I find most things to be intolerable. Light. Sound. Smells. For the most part, people. Certainly reading. But as I lie there under an icepack in the dark, thinking about how much my head hurts, thinking about what I must have done to cause it (because there is a guilt; even though migraines are in the end quite random, there is this feeling that you must have done something to bring this pain about, that you're letting other people and yourself down, that maybe you're imagining it, that somehow it's your fault, that maybe it's trying to teach you something about yourself), and it's in those moments that this burst of creativity happens for me. It's hard, because you're lying there in the dark, unable to sleep because a tiny army of evil has set up shop and is stabbing you in the eye and the side of the head and the nape of your neck and you think, Will this ever f-ing end?, and it's then, during the no sleep and the stabbing pain and the pleading for mercy, that something wonderful happens: images of beautiful things sort of swirl about and you have this ah-ha moment and think THAT is what I want to do with the kitchen, THAT is the story that I need to write down right now, THAT is what I need to do to get myself out of his hell.
And so here I am. A little bummed that a migraine has taken over much of my MLK weekend, but grateful that I don't have to deal with missing work. Lights off, sound off, isolated from people. Allowing the throbbing to teach me what lessons it may: That beauty is everywhere, even in pain. That pain can be cathartic. That I can put myself in the way of beauty. Because I choose to. And because life is beautiful.
Happy surrounding yourself with beauty!
I am a designer and financial professional with a background in comparative literature, business and design. I live in New York with my overworked lawyer husband and sweet, art-and-design-loving toddler son and spend much of my free time dreaming about how to enhance the aesthetics of our little world. I am endlessly inspired and always in search of something new. This is a blog about my search, my inspiration and things I just really, really like or want.
Blogs/Sites I Love
A Lovely Being
Cote de Texas
Little Green Notebook
Paper + Pearls
Sadie + Stella
SF Girl by Bay
The CHICago Life
The Pink Pagoda