Six years ago, when my life changed, it started with a chair.
I’ve written here many times about the struggle that life in my late twenties was; how crushed I felt by the weight of just how much I had turned out to not be what I’d hoped to become. I was stuck in a job that I hated, in a life that felt millions of miles away from the life I’d dreamed of as a little girl, and there was a time – a long time, actually – when I couldn’t see how any moment in the future could possibly bring with it something better. Or even something different.
And then, at a party late one night, I met a girl who did something called “blogging.” I’d heard of blogging, sort of – I mean, I had a rough idea of what a blog was, had even started a hidden Blogger account documenting my worst dates (oh my god), and read Perez Hilton like it was my part-time job – but I certainly didn’t know it was something that one could even consider doing for a living. And yet this girl seemed to, somehow…and at that moment I was so desperate for something to change that when she asked me to do an “audition” of sorts to become a contributor for her site, I said yes without a moment’s hesitation.
That very night, I wrote up the first week’s worth of posts: an introduction to who I was (which is a little twee and embarrassing, but also, interestingly, still mostly true), cocktail recipes inspired by an afternoon I spent at Soho House with Francesca, stories about Lucy and eggs benedict and some thoughts on kitchen snobbery. I printed them out, put them in a pretty folder, and handed them over. And a couple of days later, they went live, and I quit my job and became a professional blogger. (Not one who made an actual living at it – that came quite a bit later – but still.)
A couple of weeks after that, Kendrick and I ended up moving from our tiny apartment in Hell’s Kitchen to a slightly less tiny (but still pretty tiny) apartment on the Upper East Side, and I picked up a vanity and chair for our new bedroom at the Salvation Army. When I got home, I painted them – mint green and gold for the chair, black and white for the vanity – and I wrote a post about the project.
I remember writing this post so well; it started out as a “how to paint furniture” post because I had this idea that tips and tricks and such were what you were “supposed” to write about when you were a blogger (which was obviously a pretty incomplete understanding of what being a blogger is – or at least can be), but I felt like I wanted to say something more than just, you know, “here’s how to paint stuff.” Because it wasn’t just about painting. (It’s never “just” about painting. Or fashion. Or makeup. Ever.) It was about how finding furniture for practically nothing and then fixing it up and incorporating it into my life in whatever weird way seemed like a good idea at the time made me feel.
Basically: if you mess up…so what?
It’s just decorating. And it’s supposed to be fun.
And if you walk through life afraid of messing up, or afraid of not getting the perfect result, or afraid of what other people might think about what you did…you miss a lot of what’s out there. When I wrote about that chair was the first time I think I really, deep-down understood just how much that idea means to me, and how important it was to me to not just say it, but really live it.
When I painted this chair, I thought it was so beautiful. I loved the shape of it; I loved the story behind it, how my husband and I were moving and couldn’t afford anything and were so visibly nervous to be spending thirty bucks on a vanity that the guy who sold it to us threw in a chair for free; I loved how it looked in our new apartment, where it felt like we would have adventure after adventure (and did); I loved that it was brown and boring, and that I made it look exactly how I wanted it to look with my own two hands. And I mostly loved that I got to write about all of this, that all of a sudden I had the opportunity to not just do something I enjoyed, but to share it.
I still love that about blogging. I’m grateful for it every day.
Over the weekend we had a yard sale, and piled everything that will have no real place in our new life – a sled, a couple of space heaters, an old air conditioning unit, buckets of paint for touching up walls that will no longer be our own – into our front yard to be handed over to strangers, and I realized it was time to say good-bye to my chair. It’s even more rickety now; the paint is chipped; the gold is faded. I could fix it up and repaint it, of course I could, but the truth is that I just don’t need it anymore. It’s served its purpose, and now it’s time to move on.
But I’m glad I had it. I’m glad its story is recorded here, forever. Because it was a good chair, and more than that: it was a good place to rest awhile.