home & lifestyle

The Stuff of Living

by Wendy — August 1, 2014

I have just moved, and because there’s not much to unpack, Briana’s post made me sorely miss the constant rearranging and curating of one’s environment and one’s stuff. This is why I have been guilty of doing it to other people’s stuff. My childhood best friend once told me that I had rearranged her pencil case, lead pencils and rubber erasers in the bottom tier, ballpoint pens on top. We were eight. I can’t help being an obsessional. I am also one of those voyeuristic consumers of interiors magazines, eternally seduced by pictures of other people’s ordered, beautiful lives. That’s my fantasy. And so I laughed out loud at Vania’s reminder to relax about unrealistic perfection.

edisonI’m constantly pushing things around, subtracting, then adding, always looking for that magical and impossibly pleasing mix of balance, texture, and light. And the best part is—the “work” is never done. Delayed gratification comes only after I’d trawled eBay for the perfect, cheapest Edison light bulb and then waited and waited an eternity—okay, three days—before holding it in my eager little hands. (If I had a car, I could have just driven to some big box hardware store and gotten it, but what’s the fun in that?)

Years of being without a permanent home has resulted in all my stuff being contained. There wasn’t the luxury of indulging in frivolous excess. While everything was organized and ready to go at a moment’s notice, there was no room to make a mess and, therefore, not a lot of room for unexpected, tactile exuberance. I’ve not gotten over this uber-contained mode of living yet, but I’m hoping my new and totally unnecessary light bulb, or the rescue plants I’m trying to bring back from extinction, might inspire a little bit of spreading out.

Like Briana, I play with my stuff to feel at home. I’m sure all the Empress Tea ladies do this in one form or another. To capture and recapture moments that have happened, rearranging three-dimensional elements scrapbook-style for the life we’ve led, and to evoke the life we have yet to lead, the life we wish to lead.

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