She is not Living Here

I used to love to linger over the beautiful images in the Martha Stewart “Living” Magazine. Staring at photos of pristine cream sofas anointed tastefully with colorful DIY pillows in sun drenched rooms. These things spoke to me.  It left me with a longing. “Your home will never look like this. You are too disorganized” said the voice which sounded something like Martha Stewart, my Mom’s stringent housekeeping rules and my own critical director all joining evil forces to make me feel bad. I was dumping on myself voluntarily for not having perfection before I had even tried to create my own worthwhile space.

After I cancelled my subscription and had some therapy it still takes negotiation to let go of these harsh expectations around how things “should” look and make peace with the way they do look (home or body). I am constantly recalibrating those standards, recognizing that the demands of work, family, and health must be balanced for my own sanity.

Our home is lively, peaceful, and filled with love. The house sits on a street lined with tall and broad Linden trees that protect our home from the elements as well as cushion us from the city sounds. They carry the sea breeze through our windows when it rains.

My home has a beauty that flows. My friendly front hall greets visitors with the shoe collection of the 11 yr. old hot mess and my generous, size 13 wearing, big-hearted man.

Then there is the forgotten child of my home: a lonely and neglected area known as the back hall. This area is heavily utilized as a dumping ground for STUFF. The gorilla glue, empty bottles, as well as my fears and shame are packed onto those shelves. There are abandoned dreams along with cleaning supplies. I keep screwdrivers, paper bags, and flashlights. Functional tools at my ready to repair a cabinet, glue a leg back on a chair, or light my way if the darkness creeps in. Sometimes I feel like I am teetering on the brink of disaster along with the empties, ready to fall off the shelf at the slightest vibration.

I used to think about ways to hide the stuff on my shelves. Hide my shame and the really weird juicer thing that never gets used. Maybe I can choose to be exposed, even a little cluttered while I live in this safe space. Loneliness evaporates and hiding is no longer necessary.

Taking a deep breath, I resign to be more than just storage area.  I can cultivate flexibility, access creativity, promote recycling, embrace disorganization and cherish my memories. I can fix the garbage disposal and cook the magnificent holiday turkey with my big-pawed handsome man using the tools from my shelves.

Like my imaginary perfect space — my back hall shelves hold all my promise, purpose, light, and bubble wrap. Now it’s time to ditch that stupid leaf blower my Mom gave me. Fuck Martha Stewart.

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