An exercise in description.
Hints of red greet the eye everywhere you look in my apartment. The pillows on the couch. A handtowel. The clock and frames on the wall. A french press. Red and gold add vibrancy to the unchanging drab walls and floors. A single window lights the great room of kitchen, dining and living room. A great room extending as far as 20 feet long, its width half that. My teenage self would have scoffed at the curtains framing my great room window, laughing off their flowery pattern as “old” and “grandma-ish,” but I find them quaint now. A lopsided colorful rug of made of old t-shirts and love is centered in front of the borrowed brown couch. The paisley red pillows decorating said couch don’t match – they’re an eclectic mix of homemade and free pile scavenges.
Instead of facing a television or coffee table, a friend visiting my couch would stare at my colorful bookshelf and favorite blue velvet chair. Schwes thought my little chair would need recovering (it’s a secondhand purchase as well), but I think it’s perfect. Sitting next to it is a little side table with a stack of children’s story books for my latest adventure. If You Give a Mouse a Cookie sits on top, and I promise I want cookies every time I glance at the table. The bookshelf reflects the various stages of my life. It holds scrapbooks, yearbooks, music books, theology textbooks, and the complete works of Shakespeare. My favorite shelf includes the classics I could nearly quote: Jane Eyre. Harry Potter. The Lord of the Rings. Les Miserables. Anything by Tom Clancy. Notebooks galore and a coloring book or two sit atop the game of Life and an enchanting European jigsaw puzzle I have yet to assemble. The bookshelf also reminds me of the time I learned to cooperate with my soon-to-be brother-in-law. I learned that yes, he really did want to build the shelf for my sister and me, and no, I didn’t need to be in control of that situation.
The happy corner is across the room, but it’s the first thing the eye sees as you open the door. A wire birdcage hangs unrecognizable as such against the wall with memories and invitations and pictures clipped to its frame by clothespins. The apron my Mommy made for me hangs loosely tied to the base for ease of access. Still in my happy corner, Christmas lights form a ring around several family photos. I joke that I’m more of a grandma than my mother, who is an actual grandma, especially since on a table beneath the family wall are more photo albums, a book I have yet to finish, and a charming oriental tea set. The tea set was a gift, and its yellow and gold pattern can only be described as cheerful. Then again, maybe I’m not a grandma. The table also hosts my tool drawer and movie collection, most of which are action and adventure stories like X-men and Ocean’s Eleven (though Pride and Prejudice does make an appearance as well).
The kitchen is fairly uniform. Brown cupboards. White fridge with a reading list and a favorite recipe help up by magnets. Old oven. Antique-ish looking hand coffee grinder given by a friend. White canisters. White KitchenAid given to me by my grandma when I was in junior high and is somehow still kickin’. Perhaps the most bizarre tool in my kitchen is the bright orange hot pot I use to boil water in the morning. Bro #2 used that in college – so it’s reaching upwards of 15 years old. My spice cupboard is full, especially since that’s where I also keep the coffee and tea (aka lifeblood). A Swiss fondue pot gets stored in one of the side cupboards that I can’t reach without the help of BEKVÄM, my lovely IKEA footstool. Someday I’ll probably paint happy colors all over BEKVÄM just so he knows he’s loved.My dining table is a dropping place for random things. Right now it has my dinner, a few flyers I don’t want and haven’t yet thrown away, a birthday gift, an empty travel mug, my keys and a bottle of medicine. It also of course is home to its natural inhabitants: the napkin holder and a candle, a pair of elephant salt and pepper shakers from someone I thought was a friend, and a canister of Aromat, a Swiss condiment I like to hoard whenever I travel to see Schwes.
As I spin around the room looking for more things to mention, my eyes catch the Swiss calendar I begged off of Schwes that’s filled with happy appointments. I see the adorable Gäste slipper hanging on my wall that holds slippers I can give to guests if they get cold. The t in “Gäste” is missing. There’s a tripod and an oboe in the corner. A 5000 piece jigsaw puzzle depicting an ancient map of the world hangs out in its box under a table. There’s the trash I need to take out in the morning, and the box I think I want to keep but haven’t yet put in the closet or storage. Blankets from my latest Harry Potter movie night with friends are still wadded up on the couch. Good times.
Most people decorate their homes so they feel pretty, or comfortable, or cheerful. Mine is full of memories, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.