The only true currency in this bankrupt world…is what you share with someone else when you’re uncool.
– Lester Bangs
I got this email from a reader a few days ago – a reader, who, I may add, is most definitely not a NonSociety fan and had emailed me not-so-nice things in the past – that really got me thinking. He wrote: “I like your willingness to see style as an act of creation – trying things out rather than buying them. It speaks deeply to people, I believe…rather than buying something you are emotionally and physically divorced from, you create things that come from within.” And that’s it, really. To me, it’s not about heading to some expensive shop to buy overpriced things for your home…it’s about figuring out what you like, what you want (and what you don’t), and then honoring yourself by confidently and honestly expressing that vision in your home – and in your life.
Take my living room, for example. I absolutely adore it…and I get that not everyone feels the same. Some folks over on RBNS (NonSociety’s hate site, for those of you who don’t know) said that it was messy, ugly, eyeball-searing, whatever…and did that make me sad for a minute? Sure. But then I remembered that before I had taken the picture of my living room to post on my site, I had looked around at the dog toys littering the floor, the coffee mugs on the table, the afghan that’s there not because it’s pretty, but because it keeps my toes warm, and the pile of receipts by the door, and thought about moving them out of the shot…but then I decided not to. Because that’s not the point. I don’t live a perfect, beautiful life straight out of a magazine, and my apartment reflects that. It looks like I live there. Yours probably does, too.
The point isn’t perfection, or even aspiration to some far-off ideal. The point is to shut out the noise for long enough to discover what makes you feel great, and to then to be true to that. It’s just as important to know what you don’t like, what you don’t care about. I could care less about wedding cakes, so we had whoopie pies at our wedding. I like fake flowers, and so I buy them constantly. I also like Britney Spears. And freaking garlic salt; I would bathe in the stuff if I could. If you like something that’s “uncool”…so what? You like it. That’s what matters.
When we were in Aspen, the NonSociety girls talked a lot about this book that they were reading, Marry Him, which basically instructs readers to settle down with the guy that they’re dating if he’s “good enough”…because if they keep waiting for some guy to come along who checks every box on a miles-long checklist, they’ll be waiting forever. I think that’s absolute bullshit for about a million reasons, but mostly because the checklist that women carry around in their heads delineating the exact qualities that their future husband must possess is more often than not a construct based on others’ opinions. The noise that surrounds us on a daily basis (oh, he’s poor, can’t marry him, oh, he’s not cute enough, oh, he didn’t go to an Ivy League, oh, he doesn’t read enough/listen to music enough/go to museums enough) can skew our ability to see what might really matter.
When I met Kendrick, he was a touring musician who on occasion moonlighted as a coconut-water salesman between gigs. You think that checks off a whole lot of boxes on my friends’ “The Boy I’m Gonna Marry” lists? Prooooobably not. But if you limit your ideas about love, you limit your life – trust me on that one. I dated plenty of Checklist Guys before I met Kendrick – and certainly felt pressure to marry them from people in my life. Ultimately, though, I chose to create a family with a man who spun my heart around, rather than one that had the right “credentials.” I silenced all the noise, and chose Kendrick for him.
After I read the comments about my living room – and after the requisite moment of questioning my choices – I sat down, looked around me, and realized that man, I love our home. Our a-bit-too-busy-for-a-busy-space coffee table? A Salvation Army find from when Kendrick and I first got engaged, and my husband’s absolute favorite piece of furniture. The mismatched pillows on the couch? The coziest things ever, and from the bedroom that I grew up in. The dog toys all over the floor? Ugly, half-destroyed things that nevertheless bring constant joy to the two much-adored furballs in my life. Even that messy pile of receipts by the door symbolizes some medical reimbursements that I’m really pretty psyched about, and it makes me happy to look at it. So there.
It’s the same with love and living rooms. You should no more choose a partner in life because he meets your friends’ ideas of perfection than you should pick a lamp because Nate Berkus says to. Listen to yourself. You know what you love. Go get it.
‘Cause that’s cool.