Thursday, May 22, 2014

following intuition: settling an apartment, living a life

Moving into my own place gave me the chance to decorate my own space, which I was pretty excited about. In my early twenties I went with what was cheap and comfortable and able to be shoved in a friend's borrowed pick-up truck. I also accepted a lot of donations. So basically my apartment looked like a styled thrift store show room, made homey with the few random personal pieces of paraphernalia, like gifted tchochkes and framed photos.

Then, when I moved into a real house (and was at an age when I was finally feeling like a real adult), I dumped a lot of that stuff. The couches went on the sidewalk, the table and chairs I sold on craigslist. The unfortunate coffee table stayed with us up until the time I moved out a few months ago, perhaps a humble reminder of where I'd come from. (That thing was so heavy, not a chance characteristic in my mind.)

One thing I new I wanted in a new apartment was something with character, something other than the white boxes that are so popular around here. I was sold when I saw the hardwood floors (they are imperfect, but they are still not that rough carpet that most places have) and the built-in bookshelf in the dining room and the fold down iron board. There had to be a window over the sink, which there is, and it looks up to palm trees reaching for the sun in the foreground, golden mountains sleeping behind them. The walls are all white, which I thought to be the perfect canvas.

The thing is, all that space - even though there wasn't that much of it - scared me. I'm not a big picture person, so I had a hard time coming up with a cohesive vision for the rooms. I'm much more accustomed to the details, to one thing at a time. I had my rug that I bought a few months before moving, then in my bedroom, now the perfect starting place for the living room. I went back and forth on colors and furniture styles, but settled where I always do, on something warm. Blacks, browns and golds became my focus, with mostly soft pops of color. I collected and sorted and made things fit, which may be a haphazard way to put something together, but for me it usually works.

But there was one piece I just couldn't find: the end table. I have never chosen an end table before and I had no idea what I was looking for. I couldn't name it. But when I browsed the Target website, and when I sauntered around Homegoods, I knew I hadn't seen it yet. A friend, determined to solve my dilemma for me (really, just determined to be a good friend, I think) sent me pins and went on hunts at thrift stores. One day she texted me a photo while she was out shopping. I hastily said, "yes, buy it!" but knew right away it wasn't what I wanted. It was the glass top and the shape of the wood (and did I even want something wooden?). She brought it over and I tried not to cringe.

A few months went by, and then it happened just like I knew it would. I wasn't even looking for it when I found the end table I wanted. It was round and dark and metal and perfect. The price didn't deter me. I knew better than to think that what was right could have the wrong price tag. I brought it home, rearranged a few things to find its right spot. The lamp sits on top of it like it always belonged there, the candle next to it. Every time I look at it, deep inside I hear "yes." This is not a bad way to live a life - piecing it together, searching and then forgetting and then suddenly finding, and in it all, deeply knowing.

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