I was home alone this weekend watching movies when it happened. “You have a lovely home,” someone on my not-so-new television said to someone else whose home he had just entered for the first time. At those very average and commonplace words my head snapped up and I looked around at my apartment. From my do-it-yourself shelving units to my poorly-slip-covered-used-to-belong-to-my-parents couch to my ugly-70’s-I-meant-to-reupholster-thrift-store chairs to my octagonal-hand-me-down-from-someone-at-church dining set… it’s all second hand. My bed is used. My boys’ beds don’t even belong to me. Our dressers or drawer sets are piece-together or acquired from someone else and they don’t match anything. For that matter… nothing matches.
It isn’t the premise of having second hand items that bothers me. I care enough about conserving our planet that I would likely buy a number of used items anyway. It is the lack of choice… freedom… that irks me. I didn’t choose these furniture items. I merely acquired them. And, while I always intended to refinish or recover or paint them in order to bring some order and cohesion, I’ve never had the available funds to do any of those things.
Ditto for my overweight, worn out body and wardrobe that desperately needs major updating. C’est la vie.
And, yes, I have felt shame and embarrassment over these facts.
But, you know what? Those prefabricated bookcases hold Shakespeare and Austen and Blake and Hemingway and Tolkien and art books and poetry books. The shelves hold globes, carvings, memories and mementos from when my wanderlust was once indulged. My used dining room table can tell stories of weekend long board game marathons. Tales of Little K beating his mom and Big K in Monopoly… or Big K besting his mother at Scrabble for the first time would be prevalent.
For that matter… under my worn clothes, non-model appearance and faded optimism is a woman who dropped out of college but is more educated than many a teacher. She reads those classics that live on her bookshelf and learns from the people she encounters every day. She can carry on an intelligent conversation with just about anyone and never feels like she has learned enough in life. Mildly witty, she has a way with words. She has happy children with a thirst for knowledge and an unexplained passion for geography and cultures. They have a multitude of very defined interests and read voraciously.
We don’t have a lot of material possessions. I’m not living in a suburban five bedroom designer house with thousands of dollars worth of designer furniture and electronics and art. But, my apartment is a home and we are happy when we are together.
Don’t let the light of our shabbily adorned love, laughter and worldliness blind you.
“If most of us are ashamed of shabby clothes and shoddy furniture, let us be more ashamed of shabby ideas and shoddy philosophies.... It would be a sad situation if the wrapper were better than the meat wrapped inside it.” ~Albert Einstein