Winter is coming to Columbus, Ohio, one chilly evening at a time. Last year was terrible (I am told; it was exactly what I expected) and this year is supposed to be similar. For a pair of desert-bred, west-coast softies, this means it’s time to buckle down into some serious preparation of our home. It also means spending some time contemplating the ways that we want our home to feel, to welcome friends, to offer us peace and sanctuary.
Part of me is annoyed at the growing discovery of exactly how much of my comfort at home boils down to things being clean. I think back to my mom telling me about her mom warning her that she would never been a good housekeeper, and the scorn in my mom’s voice at the idea that that mattered. I have no qualms admitting that housework is a really weak area for me, too, and just like my mom, I can trace its lineage, though nothing productive comes from examining why I hate washing dishes. Recently, I have managed to clean every dish in the kitchen for one week straight, which is frankly kind of embarrassing at almost-34. But I feel really happy about it. I appreciate that everything is in its place and ready at hand when I wake up in the morning, and the feeling of relief is greater than that. I didn’t realize how much my dirty kitchen was putting me in a defensive position about having people in my home. And I am tired of being defensive about my life.
With just the few dishes left from breakfast sitting in the sink, my worry is free to settle on the laundry on my bedroom floor – except it’s all in the washing machine. So, on to the next topic, and each little domino falls away. With no space to settle on the floors, the dishes, the laundry, I find my mind traveling with ease to the places that need love but don’t cry out for it every day. I know (I KNOW) it’s really basic, but putting the time into the little stuff every day keeps that stuff little, and keeps the bigger stuff from becoming overwhelming. We had a houseguest for a whole weekend, and hosted a brunch at the same time, and I never felt the pressure that my space wasn’t good enough or welcoming enough. Of course, we are still untidy, beset on all sides by toddler toys and dog hair, but that is our reality of life with dogs and kids.
Another thing that’s really basic, but I’m still learning: as I feel less defensive about the work I’m doing, I feel more joy in it. My next project is making insulating Kume curtains, and they’re going to be awesome. They are going to be awesome not only because they should greatly improve the heat retention of our old house, but also because they’re something that I get to do to make our house our home. In the meantime, I know that when I step away, my sanctuary remains, relatively undisturbed by the detritus of neglect.
photo courtesy of Max Baars