After twenty-one years of marriage, I was on my own again. The house I moved into was a cracker-box of a Victorian farmhouse and was an unstructured mixture of early college dorm and granny’s attic. Lace curtains draped tall, narrow turn of the century windows with modern mini-blinds sandwiched between. Pounded metal suns and moons graced real plaster walls, and 40’s kitchen paper gave way to fat chef medallions hanging above my sink. Dragons and sorcerers nestled close to vintage music boxes, and three-dimensional Paris street scene plaques hung alongside Thomas Kinkade prints.
Having started out with a broken-down rust colored recliner and a hide-a-bed that wouldn’t fit through the door, I went furniture-less for several months before acquiring a black metal-framed futon and a Papasan chair in honey yellow. A few blue and lavender pillows kept the futon from looking too stark, and a fish tank I bought for the kids way back when added a cheerful burble to the atmosphere.
And there was definitely an atmosphere brewing there. Always before, I felt the compulsion to coordinate everything, matched bedroom furniture, matched sofa, chair and loveseat in the living room, pictures, wall colors, bath towels, a harmonious whole. I had a Donna Reed kind of house, a Leave it to Beaver lifestyle that was dictated more by the era in which I grew up and the expectations of my husband and family than it was by my personal inclination.
The objects within my new house, even the house itself, became extensions of my personality, a self-expression that startled and pleased me all at the same time. I never thought I would discover many new things about myself after a half century, but I learned that I’m constantly changing, growing, evolving.
I liked that I was breaking out of the mold I’d wrapped myself in for so many years. I liked the person I was becoming, the one I used to catch glimpses of long ago and who I was finally beginning to know again. The one with the eclectic soul.