I remember when I had the most money I think I’ll ever have.
I was a resident, and I started earning a salary.
It wasn’t a big salary, but it was more money than I’d ever made in my life.
I was able to pay my rent and go out to dinner without really worrying.
I had enough money to budget and to work with.
I remember buying a new pillow top mattress. I paid it off in a year, before interest started to accrue. That felt rich to me.
I assumed that I had arrived, and that money would flow easily from that point forward.
Living in the Bay Area makes money a source of much consternation. Apparently you can’t even live here without six figures.
But people do, and there are times when I’d rather be getting by on less.
Deep down, I think I belong in a trailer park.
It didn’t always used to be this way. Back when I thought I’d have money I envisioned a house with pleasant furnishings and fabulous fixtures. Fabulous to me meant tasteful, maybe a little funky. I used to look at home decorating magazines and dream about what I might someday create. I particularly liked old windows and black and white floors. Sort of English country mixed with beat up Americana.
I had to struggle not to lose my home some years back but I dealt with it pretty well.
I dealt with it by I crying on the phone with my lenders. Sometimes they cried too, because we were all struggling. I just cried and held onto my home.
I cried to the IRS.
Meanwhile I let my kids have horses. Somehow I knew this was my only chance to have horses for my kids but bills, I could always deal with those later. And I have, mostly.
About the time I gave up having a beautiful home, I noticed that people around me were starting to up the ante.
Regular homes that young families lived in started to take on monumental proportions.
Suddenly everyone looked like they stepped out of Restoration Hardware.
I do home visits with my newborns, so I get to see how people live around here.
And it’s damn nice.
If you go back to the fifties or even before, family homes were smaller and the decor was simpler and for goodness sake people had less stuff.
Now, the wow factor is through the roof.
I don’t know what’s up with me but everything I touch turns to thrift shop.
I actually buy my “furniture” if you can call it that, from the thrift store across the street.
By the time my kids left they’d gotten pretty used to grabbing a fist of singles and heading over to Uhuru when we needed a table.
They’d also gotten used to having some weird things in their house. Like the pony-sized wooden horse in the dining room.
For someone who’s cashflow is a little off all the time, I know how to jump when an item speaks to me.
So I’ve got a ceramic turtle, a wooden spinning sculpture, a bust of a lady with toys coming out of her head and some type trays that I glued seashells into. From all those trips to the beach.
I left up the plastic rats running along my molding draped in gold garland from the holidays (they’re fun). Ditto the Nightmare before Christmas door decals. And I’m in the process of collaging my front door. The door to the basement is already a work of art.
I thought about that Kondo woman, and joy.
Having one of the perfect homes I walk into at first seems like something I might like. I might like it if my linoleum from the early seventies on my kitchen floor weren’t gold-flecked and peeling.
I might like having an amazing backsplash.
But apparently I go in for the painting of two boats I bought in Carmel one year. I think it cost as much as a new kitchen floor and a back splash. But it spoke to me.
I wear leggings and T-shirts and sandals and occasionally cowboy boots. I’m not fussy about clothes at all. I do have taste, but trying to express that in a wardrobe would be far too expensive and time consuming. So I’ve settled on this mime-like outfit and I accessorize with a smile and a pedicure. That’s it.
With all these dogs, it doesn’t make sense to have nice furniture. In fact, I don’t really even like nice furniture. I like sushi pillows and old chairs with ripped upholstery . I must, because that’s what I’ve got.
I do think the houses I go into are pretty, but I’ve finally come to the conclusion, or rather accepted, that those finishings are never going to be mine.
I like nice linens, puffy comforters, plastic rats and a house littered with instruments.
I will never forgive Peter for putting the brakes on that accordion. Long ago I found the most beautiful accordion at a swap meet, for a song. I didn’t have cash on me and he poo pooed the whole transaction because I didn’t play the accordion.
Well, I didn’t play the banjo when I impulse bought that, either.
I’m not very practical when it comes to things I love and want.
But I also don’t have some inflated notion of what I need.
I need very little, and that makes me happy.
I’d rather live with a bunch of mismatched dogs and a collection of leftover utensils (I ave three partial sets) than rein it in for some Pottery Barn special.
Apparently that’s the case, so when I go around with my this place is a dump hat on I’ve got to remember that I have some things I really love.
And more importantly, I have mess-up furniture because I’m doing things I really love.
I’ve got a singing lesson today. I could skip singing and fix the tear in that old chair. But then I wouldn’t get to sing.
I’ve made this all sound cute and given it an Amelie twist, but I’m 55 and I have to drape my couch with a comforter and there’s duct tape on the arm of the chair in my room. You could make a case for throwing out most of the furniture in this house and if you tried to give it to Salvation Army, they’d laugh in your face.
To be honest, there are some things I’d still like fix up around here. Plus there’s my roof that doesn’t leak but that makes everyone who sees it a little maintenance-nuts. Low maintenance is a good dating thing but in houses, not so much.
I’ve got some bills to pay and some other stuff to do.
Like dream about the perfect trailer.
It might be in my genes somewhere but it must skip a generation because my mom has a really nice house.
Years ago my people came from the trailer parks without any shoes.
So don’t fence me in.
That’s what I tell myself, anyway.
And mostly, in the end, after I’ve drooled over someone else’s perfect home, I believe me.