Blank Walls

It’s been a couple weeks now since I moved out of my charming one-bedroom apartment—the one with the eroding stone wall and the upstairs neighbor who vacuumed at least four times a week, usually at ten o’clock at night—into a two-bedroom that I now share with my boyfriend. Moving weekend was brutal, as we chose the hottest weekend in twenty years to haul all of our belongings up and down stairs all day, but the pain of that experience is now a distant memory, and the bruises I incurred are at least 70% faded. Of course, they have since been replaced by other mysterious bruises, but that’s just how my anemic, olive-skinned self rolls. It is not uncommon for me to look like I’ve recently been in a fight with something about as tall as my shins, like an angry goose, or a fire hydrant.

It’s been a few years since I lived with anyone else, so there is an extra level of adjustment in this relocation, a constant checking of the more self-centered habits I’d gotten used to indulging in when I lived alone. Despite that, and despite the fact that I’ve never lived with a significant other before, so far things have been…comfortable. As anticipated, the change of setting has been simple enough for me to adapt to, and I’ve fallen easily into my new routine, which includes a seven-minute commute to work and, so far, no need to adjust my sleep schedule to accommodate my neighbors’ obsessive housekeeping. So far, so good.

Buffy posterIf there has been any source of angst in this move, it has been in the fact that I am aggressively no-frills in my home decor aesthetic. For a long time I’ve had a strong aversion to the collection of crap. If something isn’t immediately useful, I don’t want to waste my time or money on it. As a result, for the entire first year I lived in my previous apartment, I hung up perhaps one picture, leaving the rest of the walls bleak and bare. For a long time I didn’t even have a bookshelf, leaving my books stacked up in piles on the floor.

My significant other belongs to the “more is more” camp, and gets more satisfaction out of the art of interior design than I ever will. Thus, I now find myself in a position where, to be equally represented on the walls and shelves of this new apartment, I need to grit my teeth and invest in more art and *dramatic music* tchotchkes.

It seems like such a silly thing to be angsty about. There are certainly worse things to spend your money on. Like drugs. Pyramid schemes. Crocs. That burger where the buns are replaced with fried chicken. As someone who presumably appreciates art and has a reasonably developed aesthetic sensibility, you would think I’d be thrilled at the opportunity to decorate my space with objects and images that inspire and delight me. Somehow, though, my frugality and laziness merge with a latent sense of utilitarianism, and the end result is bare apartment walls and an office at work completely devoid of personal items. If I had a nickel for every time someone walked into my office and said, “You should put up some pictures in here!” I’d have…well, at least enough to feed the parking meter.

So to fight against this tendency towards sparseness, I’m keeping my eyes open and thinking about the things that, while not useful in the strictest sense, still serve a purpose in the memories they evoke or the feelings they inspire. I find it all too easy to get caught up in asking what the point of things are, asking why I do the things I do, and sucking any potential joy out of experiences in the process. I still think it’s wise not to spend time and money recklessly on things that have no positive value, but at the same time I have to remind myself that it’s possible to simply enjoy and appreciate things and experiences for what they are, whether or not they have an immediately apparent utility.

The new apartment is a lovely, comfortable, quiet place, and I think we will get along just fine here. In the meantime, though, I need me some more art! STAT! (Or, you know, whenever I get around to it.)

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