I subscribe to quite a few magazines. I have tried to reduce the number over the years but somehow new ones replace older ones and the ones I grew up with like the Ladies Home Journal and Life, have been replaced by Real Simple and Country Living (a throw back from the rural life we had before we became city mice). January is the month that always contains information on sprucing or spicing up your relationship , losing that holiday weight or gaining self esteem, reorganizing your closet or your life, and always lets you know there is room for improvement. I love poring over the articles and rearranging the rooms in my mind. I actually spent yesterday and some of today decluttering my brain and at the same time, did a little dusting, vacuuming and sorting through our possessions. Nothing dramatic, since I really like our stuff. I don’t decorate, I coordinate. Some might say that I am eclectic in my taste and surroundings. Our loft looks like we live here and that is what we both want to convey. You’re likely to find a cat curled up on the couch (her couch) and my FHB sitting in his leather chair facing the television, eyes closed (he is not asleep, just resting his eyes).
Every piece of art hanging on the walls has a story. Some are gifts, some were painted by my talented FHB or my very creative sister. We have found art, three dimensional creations, photographs and a tribal wedding necklace brought back from Africa by a very dear friend. We have a blueberry harvest box filled with treasures from the ocean and the land, each piece displayed in just the right way. Someone might look at it and not see the beauty but they don’t know the story behind each shell or seaglass or feather or tiny pinecone.
There are pieces of furniture that are part of my family’s history. My maternal grandparents were married on May 19th, 1910 and their sideboard was custom built for them. When they left Germany in 1938, it was one of the pieces that travelled to the US and arrived in New York City and lived in my aunt’s home for almost 65 years until it became part of my memories and household. I dusted it today and ran my hands along the cracks in the wood and imagined it back 107 years ago when a young couple were starting out, surrounded by something beautiful and enduring. It is a connection to my past. My paternal grandparents, who arrived in New York in 1936 travelled with a bentwood chair that was actually a commode from their house in a more country setting near Frankfurt, Germany. I don’t have the pot but if you lift up the pressed wood cover, you will see a rudimentary “seat” where some relatives did what we still do but in quite a different setting.
There are quite a few pieces of furniture that my FHB built and will become heirlooms (perhaps) somewhere in the future. Nothing matches, like in the magazines, but everything fits, like a gallery of our lives. We have photos of our children, our grandchildren, our grandparents and parents, our future and our past. There are slabs of wood, hidden underneath couches and sideboards, furniture to be built. There are bicycles, one for exercise (that’s my FHB’s) and one for decoration (that would be mine). There are two little chairs from a library that closed and when two little girls we love come and visit, each will have a chair to sit in and race around with (they have caster wheels)! We have three large rubber trees, all that started as small plants from a tree that came from my aunt and uncle’s house in New York from many years ago (perhaps the 1940s). We have given away the offshoots to our offshoots (children and siblings and a nephew) as an interpretation of our family tree.
When I shut the door, I step inside a place that is familiar, comfortable and filled with contentment and good conversation. It doesn’t really matter what is on the walls, or what kind of chair you sit in, as long as you don’t sit on the cat. Things, especially the ones that hold your memories, are wonderful to display and enjoy. Where you hang your hat, feed your cat and listen to jazz (softly because there are neighbors) is home.
Have a wonderful week. Don’t rearrange your furniture, just make sure your chair faces someone you like.