Recently, I visited a friend and came home feeling entirely dissatisfied with my house/yard/general existence. (Note: my feelings of inadequacy had nothing to do with the my friend at all. She and her family are some of the sweetest, most authentic, loveliest, hardest working people ever. So to be clear, she did nothing wrong. This is not about her. It is about me.)
Most days, my cup feels half full when it comes to material possessions, so this was a bit odd. Sure, I sometimes have pangs of jealousy, and sometimes I get inspired to better my lot in life, but more often than not, I just think, “Wow, that’s beautiful,” or “They’re such neat people,” and then move on.
But his time, for whatever reason, I was suddenly excruciatingly aware of how tired and shabby my house is.
*There’s a violent hole in the leather sofa’s middle cushion.
*Various lampshades have been stapled, broken, smooshed, and scribbled upon.
*There’s the alarm clock that has to be flipped upside down in order to keep the alarm set.
*Dead house plants adorn cluttered, dusty shelves.
*The flower gardens look more like weedy patches of wildflowers than actual cultivated beds.
*Window screens are broken and bent.
*The dining room table has a broken leg and must not be bumped or leaned upon lest it go crashing to the floor.
*My bedroom has a bad case of the piles.
*The upstairs toilet is missing a lid.
*One easy chair lists to the side, the other screams every time someone sits in it, and the rocker walks.
*Rugs are faded and stained, and one of the kitchen tiles is broken.
And that’s the short list.
I read something recently in which the mother was describing their hot little home by the railroad tracks. Some of the doors are missing their knobs, she said, and extension cords for the fans are all over the place. As I read that, I mentally tsk-tsked and rolled my eyes, but now I realize she was describing my house, too, down to the missing doorknobs and extension cords trip-traps (yes, really). It made me depressed.
If I had some self-righteous high ideals to back up my style of shabby chic (which is shabby, minus the chic), it’d be a lot easier to cope with the state of things. Because then I could have glorified reasons for the faded and worn-out furniture—“we wear things out because we don’t want to add to the landfill,” or “we live simply so others can simply live.” Whatever.
Or, I could play the classic If I Just Had More Money song on my itsy-bitsy woe-is-me violin. Which is mighty tempting, I must admit.
But both of those arguments are hogwash. The truth is, I don’t have it in me to fuss over my house all day long. I don’t want to weed my flower beds to perfection or go buy fabric to fix the sofa. (I just want them to magically look perfect/be fixed.) When it comes down to it, I pretty much hate shopping and rearranging and matching. It’s much easier to throw a blanket over the hole in the sofa and then sit down on it with a bowl of popcorn and a good book.
So if I’m (mostly) okay with my holey sofa and non-lidded toilet (it flushes quite nicely) and squawking chairs, then why all the jealousy? I’m not really sure (and don’t want to spend the time thinking logically about this anymore). What I do know is that I’m not going to let myself wallow. Either I grab the bull by the horns and fix things up (those plants only have minutes left in his house), or I can decide to focus on all I do have and smile real big. In either case, the choice is mine and I WILL OWN IT.
I feel so much better now. Thank you.
A post-post disclaimer:
a. What feels trashy to me would probably feel (and be!) luxurious to the vast majority of the world.
b. I am fully aware that I’m a hard worker, that my house is cozy, and that we are wonderfully fortunate to live the way we do.
c. There is so much more to life than nice sofas. It’s the togetherness and kindness that actually count. (So what to do when we can’t stand being around each other and no one acts very kind? But excuse me, I digress. That’s a whole other post…)
d. Even beautiful people feel ugly, skinny people fat, and hardworking people lazy. These are feelings and feelings aren’t always rational. I’m just being honest here.