I hoard books, apparently. He wants a clutter-free environment, stark–if you ask me. I want an office filled with wall to wall books, a library with an enormous chair and ottoman that smells like leather and orange blossoms. I want a room, or even a nook, that’s just mine, to plaster photographs of friends, and to frame my scarves. A girl den. "The whole house is yours," he insists. "What do I get to decorate?" Yeah, but everything is a compromise. He has to approve the choices. It’s why I want a space just for me, to be a girl, aside from my closet.
I compromised and moved what he perceived as clutter (my books) into a corner of our upstairs "game room" area. "Can you hide the books you don’t really use or need, that are just plain ugly?" He’s speaking of Dogs For Dummies, as his example. And I understand, I do, but back off. It’s bad enough that I’m now moving all my books into a corner upstairs. "Yeah, but I see that corner every time I leave the bedroom." So play a little game with yourself, spin and close your eyes, then see if you can find your way to the staircase. I have a case of e-ville today. I know he just wants to hear that I’ll try to stop hoarding. "And don’t use the writer excuse," he adds, "because you don’t write near your books. You write in coffee shops or in bed." I just want to hear, "Since you’ve moved them all up here, do whatever you wish with them." It’s a dumb argument and one clearly not worth having, but this is how it goes, in the unpacking.
"Can’t you just put some of them in boxes in a closet?" Why don’t I put you in the closet? "What about the ones you’ll never even use or open?" I like to know they’re there. You never know from where inspiration will strike. And just then, I spot a "Will write for food," type of book about making a living as a food writer, and whack, inspiration strikes upside the head: an image conjures of my hitting him in the skull with a cast-iron skillet. Repeatedly.
So here’s my new job: dammit, I will at the very least, once a week, get an idea from a new book and blog about it. Because the books really do inspire me, and aside from Brandy’s Piano Bar, I don’t feel more alive anywhere than when I’m surrounded by books. I wish I could make a bookstore wing, with arts and crafts tables like this one (all from Pottery Barn). It’s a nook, where I can play my music on repeat. There will be an area for gifts, and gift wrapping (this is the best site I’ve found to get a girl started). Ideally, the guppies will have their own arts and crafts station nearby, with cushioned seating and storage beneath. Smocks and easels. Though I imagine this will need to happen somewhere else. Our upstairs is carpeted, flawlessly, white–or some variation thereof, but it looks white. The family living here before us, had four children, and they still managed to maintain this carpet. Perhaps supplies will be stored in our arts and crafts inspiration wing, but we’ll execute downstairs on the hardwood hickory floors, near the kitchen, the hub of inspiration, anyway.
Philip wants the upstairs to be a television den because he loves the view. These are, of course, good "problems" to have, but they still take discussion and compromise. As I’ve said before, if my things are stowed away in a closet, I won’t use them. I need them to be out and about, colored pencils at the ready beside stacks of crisp paper. Ribbon wheels on pillars, eager for the clipping. And his problem is, he doesn’t want to have to see any of it. If only we had a basement.
"In everyday life, when people experience an increase in affluence, status, or achievement, they raise the standards by which they evaluate their own attainments…When climbing the ladder of success, people look up, not down (Gruder, 1977; Suls & Tesch, 1978; Wheeler & others, 1982). In this lifetime game of chutes and ladders, I remind myself how lucky I am to even have an upstairs, complete with carpet for crawling, and I realize I’ve worked hard for these things. He has too, and I need to learn to share more, because I’m not an infant or toddler or toy fox terrier dog. I’m a woman looking for a room of her own, with a view, some shelves, and a crafts desk. I’ll get there, and it will be easier knowing that not too long ago at all, I lived in a two room apartment, where I ate on my lap, without room for a dining room table. The feelings of relative deprivation dissolve when I remember that I was just as happy then, without the "upward comparison" catalog life.