Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Curtains as a Happy Distraction

In the months leading up to our move to our home, I worked myself into a lather over a few "critical" things, the most embarrassing being outlet placement (don't ask) and the most memorable - curtains for our living room. I shudder to think of the number of hours I spent scrolling online sales for affordable, dramatic curtains to cover the supersized windows the builder had accidentally installed. This was particularly tricky since the quest fell during a time when our family was adjusting to a much lower income and I'd fallen into the habit of quantifying every unnecessary purchase in terms of how how many mouths it might feed or how many wells it might build.

As usual, this middle class tension rattled my cage for a while, then ended with a quick trip through PayPal. Push the button, move on. A girl's gotta have curtains.

I settled on the famed, bottom dollar "bed tapestries." (I still honestly don't know what this means, but I can tell you they arrived looking like a slightly thicker flat sheet.) A friend lined and hemmed them for me, and up they went. Cheery and unique, they made me happy, and I'm not just saying that because they evoked a certain Mexican restaurant vibe.

Everything was fine until December, which, if you're keeping track, was only two short months later. How on earth would my beloved curtains ever coexist with the Christmas tree? I took them down and ordered bamboo shades, trading Latin-esque for what I tried to tell myself was Scandanivian but what actually, looking back, amounted to barely trying mixed with a dash of festive gaudiness. We needed blinds anyway. (We did not. We did not need blinds. The blinds have been nothing but trouble.)

The following Christmas, a friend gifted me with a new set of curtains in a gorgeous buffalo check and I officially had a problem on my hands. But problems come in pairs, so it shouldn't surprise you to hear that the next year, our old rug lost its fight against humanity. Of course we ordered a new one, something quirky and different.

When we realized the rug clashed with the curtains, the only thing left to do was order different curtains. Again. I'd been feeling pigeon-holed for a while with the green and orange color scheme, not my favorite by a long shot. I took to Ikea, soothing my conscience with their budget pricing and goes-with-everything sensibilities.

I had officially become the seasonal curtain rotator I had quietly judged back when we packed up everything we owned, including our plans for the future, and hauled it to the city. Up and down they went, a chore I both dreaded and looked forward to. There I was, in my pared-down home, stockpiling curtains like they were thrift store mugs, loose socks, or extra Taco Bell hot sauce packets. 

Was it dumb luck when I spotted my dream curtains created by one of my favorite artists on yet another ill-advised "pretend shopping" rendezvous? Was it fate?

In any case, I took measurements and did the math with skittish hands. I had invented yet another fun curtain game, this one tiresomely called Will She or Won't She but Seriously Shannan, No One Actually Cares.  "I'm getting the curtains." "I changed my mind, it's too extravagant." "I'm buying them as a gift to myself for publishing my first book." "I deserve them!" "I don't deserve anything ever again." "Wait a minute, will they clash with the rug?"

This went on for weeks or even months.

Then I arrived home from a trip last November and was confused to see a mysterious package waiting on the dining table. The confusion grew when I read the card. The package was from my mom, an extra-special curtain gift to celebrate the birth of Falling Free (this was a belated celebration, as the curtains took 6 weeks to ship.)

Sidenote: The Garber family is not historically known as being a big "gift" family. My dad usually gifted us with things like jumper cables or cases of motor oil, although one year he did buy himself an expensive gift, wrap it up, unwrap it, and feign surprise while we all looked on in confusion. We err on the practical side and sometimes veer into forgetfulness. (Which reminds me of the time my mom wrapped our Christmas gifts using a code number system but forgot to record the key. My brother opened a pink, pinstriped denim purse. My sister opened a basketball.)

Sidenote two: My mom bought a set of beige thermal-lined "drapes" from the J.C. Penney catalog when I was in Kindergarten. When I was a newlywed, she replaced them with an identical set.

Sidenote three: My mom doesn't have a Smart Phone and remains confused and unmoved about many things, including the following: Instagram, decorating trends, and pattern mixing (or patterns at all, for that matter.)

So anyway, I felt tremendously loved. It was my 11th birthday all over again, but instead of a lavender 10-speed, I got bright, eye-catching, totally unnecessary and entirely dreamy curtains.

I keep meaning to tell you about them. I've thought about it a hundred times. What happened to the Shannan who would have casually styled the living room and taken photos on the first sunny day, posting them here the next? What happened to the "me" who would have spent time and money pulling the room together with the perfect ratio of casual and curated?

I waited for my mojo, and dangit, the punk never did show.

I has come to my attention that I've lost the fortitude to change out the art on the wall behind our couch. I slapped up my beloved Joshua 1:9 sign using an nail hole left-over from back when the couch was considerably taller and tan. In other words, three curtain styles ago.

The new curtains didn't get along with the pretty rug, just as I expected. I spent one half-hearted hour looking for a new one, something neutral again like this, then swapped it out for the two little rugs in the basement. Though it's true this combo doesn't exactly "work", our toes are loving the fluff and our visitors couldn't possibly care less about what's on our floors or our windows or even what's simmering for them on the stove.

Oh, hey there, Legos. Hey, basket of tangled charging cords and sundry Silas paraphernalia.You somehow make our everyday life both more and less pleasant, and I'm not asking questions. Who cares if you're pretty or not. You live here in our tiny living room. The end.

Raise your hand if you've bought a living plant since January 1, and bonus points if you got it at Aldi. (Raises hand.) I intended for this jade plant to replace the hanging plant that met an early demise, then I realized I liked this one better as a regular sitter.

Reindeer head still hanging from Christmas? What reindeer head la la la I can't hear you!!!!!

We have a legendary book situation on our hands. I blame myself.
But I also blame my kids because they're hoarders and stackers and sometimes, dare I say, slobs.

While I'm over here still feeling smug, I also blame Beverly Cleary, Rick Riordan, Dr. Seuss, and a lot of other people whose names I won't drag through the mud.

Next to the wall over the couch, my second favorite thing to decorate back when I decorated was the space above the TV cabinet. I've always thought of it as sort of like a mantel for the girl who has everything but a mantel.

For years it's been an ever-rotating display of seasonal color and swoony quirk. But then Silas built this structure and said, "I feel proud of myself!" with his upper lip curled all the way under and I couldn't take it down. I stare at it often and have resisted evening-out its legs, though I have one leg longer than the other, so I should really know better.

Howard has started biting the ankles of our company under the dinner table.

Hey! Cory had the genius idea of repurpose these printed-off Instagram photos used to decorate our tree this year by taping them down the length of this wee support wall. I love it like red beets and tulips and naps.

(Sorry, but I forgot to ever show you a single one of the Christmas decor photos I took and edited. Christmas in July??)

Fine. Christmas in January.

In other news, my war against Legos continues to gain steam. I have stopped bending down to spare them from the vacuum unless they are a "guy", an accessory, or large enough to be grabbed by my toes.

We gave our mini van to the neighbor guy because it wasn't worth paying to have it towed and scrapped. He put eighty magical dollars into it, and she's purring like a kitten. Next, he bought a vanity plate which says "Grandpa's Toy", something I find both funny and cute, but when he had the gall to put hubcaps on it, I'll be honest, it made me a bit covetous. #whatmighthavebeen

The curtains are too long.
Oh well.
The gray situation has reached its limits.
Oh well.

The Christmas cactus is blooming!!!

I've forgotten to dust for the last 3.5 years.
Oh well.

So, here you have it. This is the room where we do the most living. There was a time I loved sprucing it up and showing it off, but these days, I mostly just love sitting in it along with my people - the ones I live with and the ones who rotate in and out each week.

You are welcome to wear your shoes in.
You are welcome to eat on the sofa.

You are welcome to put your feet up, though I will warn you, they'll probably fall asleep since the table is a few inches too high.

One of these days, I'm sure I'll get my head fully back in the game.
Until then (and even after,) come on in.

Stay a while.