Forget Perfection

ready for the living rm fun OCSAPeople judge you. There’s no avoiding it.

Example: Fella comes to my house one day, wants to clean a rug that lies on the floor of a room where a zillion dust motes dance in the golden bars of daylong sunlight. But the minute he walks in, his face goes pale. “What have you done here?” he shouts. “Your rugs are all faded!”

I look and he is right: The rug he has come to carry off for cleaning used to be red, tan and navy when we bought it. Now it’s rust, cream and baby blue. “This rug is losing RADIANCE!” he shouts again.

“Hey I’m losing radiance myself,” I say. “It’s OK, it doesn’t hurt.”

“Here’s what you have to do,” he goes on, ignoring me. “Pull down the shades. Draw the drapes.” He bustles around doing this until the room that has dazzled with sunlight a moment before looks ready now for a séance.

“But we love the sun,” I tell him,  feebly adding, “We sit in this window seat here, and…” “Then AT LEAST take a sheet and cover the area of greatest exposure!” he snaps. “You owe it to your carpets!” he adds, scooping up the carpet in question and hurrying out the door.

Since that day I have thought a lot about what this man said. I was sorry to have let him down, but I just can’t run a house his way, keeping the rugs bright by locking the sunlight out. Keeping things perfect under plastic. Pleasant under glass.

I used to visit houses like that when I was little, the kind that made you feel as though silken cords were stretched across the chair arms, and velvet ropes were hung across the doorways. I vowed even then that if I ever did have a house of my own, I would never run it that way.

And I don’t. We LIVE in our house. We live all over those 19th century sofas in the living room, which are only done in velvet because velvet is the toughest fabric there is – well, next to maybe Naugahyde. And I’m proud of that fact.

But now hasn’t the upholstery man just gotten after me too: He came here once for a Victorian sofa that I’d reupholstered myself a decade ago that ended up looking like a lumpy pink bed with a person sewn inside it. He took that old thing out and turned it into a pale blue dream of perfection.

Then this past month, a small visitor set her little bones upon a sofa even older than the Victorian one and blam! one leg — ball, claw and all — shot straight out from under it. The upholsterer was here to perform diagnostics on the break, but his gaze fell first upon the toddler who was clumping quietly around in his little white shoes.

“You let your CHILDREN in this room?” he squeaked, his voice ascending the scale of disbelief.

“Sure,” I answered, as the child in question smiled sweetly and drooled a little onto the velvet.

“On THIS couch!?” He squeaked. “MY couch?!”

“It’s going to lose radiance!” I could all but hear him say next.

He didn’t say that though. Instead he picked up this most recent casualty and started for the door. “Well it’s your house,” he sniffed, washing his hands of us all.

“You bet!” I told him, smiling big. Because really, it’s fine by me if our stuff is too worn out to pass down to our kids one day. What I’d much rather pass down to them is permission to enjoy the beauty of their surroundings; permission to fade, as we all must fade, gloriously, in the sun.

me working

 

 

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Author: Terry Marotta

I am syndicated columnist, blogger and author who loves any chance to give talks about the ease of first-person writing.

14 thoughts on “Forget Perfection”

  1. I love the comment about silken cords across the doorway. I always felt as if my Mother had velvet cords across hers. My family lived in our house too.

  2. Your rug expert would be very comfortable in the Russian Embassy. Your home is known as a place where the “light shines in”. Your skeleton is even looking for more enlightenment.

    1. Really? I’m weirdly drawn to the Russian interiors I see on FX’s The Americans (that Russian embassy) and in the Netflix series House of Cards. I think I’m nostalgic for all old stuff basically. 🙂

    1. I like the pink thing with a person sewn inside. And the bag o’ bones using the computer? Not likely I’ll be able to lift my leg as high! Love, love, love laughing! Thanks, Terry!

  3. I had a neighbor who had white furniture and white carpeting. No one could enter their house with shoes, and I suspected she might be checking your clothes also, in case of residual dirt. I’m sure no one would dare eat in there. Like you, I thought, “Who wants to live in a house where you can’t relax, can’t touch anything?” You are so right.

    1. I love that you suspect she was checking your clothes! yikes! Do you remember when the old folks had antimacassars on their furniture so the oil from people’s hair wouldn’t stain the upholstery ? I do, but just barely .. Same thing maybe huh?

      1. I bet it was a happy home. We had to use those antitimacassar thing on period scenery. It was a pain. The actors were always dropping them and they ended up in the strangest places. I remember telling one kid to glue them on the chairs! This went over really well when they had to be removed!

  4. we like “living” in our house also! and the sun!! i wish we had a retractable roof, i open every shade every day inviting in the sky’s grace and each evening one of the lucky children gets to close every shade, every day. i often pass people’s houses and wonder how they keep their shades drawn so tight and what about the darkness inside? i LOVE my sunlight and my faded furniture and my faded photos in the line of the light. blessings!

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