Wednesday, August 03, 2022

finding our forgotten selves

When I was in my early 20's, long before I had an actual apartment I could decorate of my own, I read magazines--lots of magazines, most handed off, like the horror novels I hoarded, by an aunt. Elle, Mademoiselle, Glamour, Cosmo, occasional chunky issues of Vogue. Because no one else wanted to read them and my mother was happy with some of the cooking and home mags, I would cut things out, making large collages in a giant spiral sketchbook.  There were two actually, one with clothing ideas and another with interior design stuff..the outfits I wanted to wear, the houses I wanted to live in. Really, it was just an early, more mono version of Pinterest, which I still use today. 

I also spent a lot of time watching my parents' satellite tv in the middle of the night once they had gone to bed and I took over the big screen in the living room.  While I did watch some shows and movies, I pretty much would turn on HGTV and let it play all night while I worked on other things--homework, poems, writing in my journals, cross-legged at the coffee table in front of the couch.  When I was in college, my mother and I would spend a lot of time and money redecorating rooms we hoped my father wouldn't notice were different (though he paid the credit card bills, so I imagine he totally knew.) Even my tiny grad school studio had a lot of thought put into posters and furniture in the two years I was there. In Rockford, I lived in a gorgeous place with a sleeping porch and dark cherry-colored floors, but had to leave when I didn't find a job quickly enough.  When I moved into my current place of the last 20 odd years, I've slowly evolved a look I like, mixing vintage and modern together.  

Today, I was working on some recent pieces for House Digest and laughing about how much I somehow absorbed from that network, from the magazines, from other decor books I loved to check out from the library. When I was younger, I was very particular about my surroundings and things I wanted and still pretty much am, even though my apartment, with its battered thrift store pieces and cat-scratched upholstery, is hardly a showplace, Its still very intentional in where I put things and how I want them to look, even if my budget is low. I remember being 15 and thinking I would love to be an interior designer but then backing away when it occurred to me you had to work with other people a lot. 

When I work on these pieces, whatever I'm writing about, today, ash trees for your backyard fall color and decorating with sage green, I feel like I'm connecting with the girl who ripped pages out of Elle Decor and watched entire marathons of Curb Appeal. (and it still amazes me someone actually wants to pay me to write about home decor every time the money hits my account.) It's also a testament to  the circuitous path that wound up with me landing this job in the first place--of leaving the library, and taking on writing more architecture lessons as the art ones ran thin (I was hired to write about both art and lit, but I liked to alternate them because the books are much denser work.) Those architecture lessons in my portfolio sent me down this particular path I may never have otherwise gone down. Only to wonder where this is where I would have loved to have been all along. 

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