Home Sweet Home
March 3, 2009 § 3 Comments
As I walked in the door at about 2:00 pm today, I planned to look at my apartment as potential renters would, as well as assess it a task to be accomplished. I expected to see clutter and dinginess, evidence of my psychic disarray, and was instead astonished at how charming and homey it was, the rugs, the books, the art, and the cabinets of beads. In the bedroom more books, photographs, my writing desk, and the full-length mirror on a stand I bought a few months before I stopped buying anything. Yes, I have too much stuff for the space and there are places I’d rather you didn’t investigate too closely, but really I wasn’t thinking about you, about anyone but me; my place, mine; I thought could spent the rest of my life in these two rooms, reading, writing, watching TV from bed, making jewelry at midnight and cookies in the afternoon, and never be unhappy for a moment.
Then I ate an apple and fell asleep. I woke at four, ground coffee in my closet kitchen that has a floor half cheap linoleum and half crumbling plaster and dirt covered with $3.99 rugs—that part mostly hidden beneath the butcher block cart that serves as my only counter space—and thought of the rust under the sink and the oven that follows no instructions other than on and off, things I put up with (though I’m perfectly capable of cajoling the super) because a part of me loves neglect, feels safest when my environment is both lovely and imperfect.
I was like this as a child, in my mother’s big, beautiful house, which was always clean. Told to vacuum, I would vacuum 95% of the room and when my mother said, “Really, isn’t it just as easy to finish the job?” I didn’t know how to say, “Yes, but I like it better this way,” in words she would understand. It confused me that it wasn’t obvious, the beauty and rightness of some dust remaining, a few little patches of dust sparkling in the sun. How they set off the clean part, added nuance. And when we drove through the town, I was interested in the other big houses in our neighborhood but I was enchanted by the little houses, the smaller the better, houses where I imagined families packed like chocolates in a box.
I’m aware that, as an adult, my attachment to pockets of squalor is more complex. I’m reacting to what others think—those girlfriends who come in and say, “I could do so much with this place!” or my boyfriend who scolds me for my living conditions as if I had rats running over piles of rotting garbage and the occasional severed hand. No, actually he doesn’t scold me like that. I have just felt it sometimes, in the interstices of his words, which, as he would say, is my problem.
But leaving aside the dicey parts, I have spent a bit of time and money in the past two years touching up the place—buying a runner rug from overstock.com that I put on the far side of the bed where it’s sometimes chilly, where my boyfriend and husband have to step when they get up in the middle of the night; a painted, supposedly antique Chinese cabinet (in the Tibetan style) on ebay, which I keep the TV on; and the aforementioned mirror; and the kitchen cart…
The New York lottery prize, I heard on the way in from the airport, is up to $212,000,000. If I took it in cash, it would be a little under a 100 mil, subtract 45% for taxes—plenty for me, my mother, Charles, Philip, Lisa, Gina, Andree, Berta, my two nieces, my two siblings, my four stepchildren and their offspring, a half dozen other friends I’d like to free from the shackles of their jobs…and my husband’s brother and his daughters…and Faxy and Kate if they need it…
I wouldn’t have enough left to move. And that would be fine.
“To feel at home, stay at home.” ~Clifton Fadiman