Several friends have recently remarked to me that they are impressed with my ability to let go of things that have sentimental meaning for me but that don’t fit in with my design of a room. After convincing myself that they did not in fact mean, “You seem like a heartless bitch,” I pat myself on the back and thought, “Thank God.”
Objects have always held a sentimental hold on my heart. Some of my earliest memories are of my relationships to Things; the hours I would spend with my grandparent’s Disney record collection from the 40’s and 50’s, the bright yellow spines of their complete National Geographic collection, the wonder of discovery in their attic and creak of the old wooden chests stored there. I simply do not remember a time when Things didn't have some magical pull on me.
As a young girl I made it clear that I expected to inherit everything, and as an only child I didn’t find much resistance to the demand. Now that I have indeed inherited most of our family things, I find myself constantly figuring out how to honor the past and to make a new and unique future.
Case in point: I recently received a letter in the mail, handwritten on paper, from my grandmother, the very much alive grandmother who’s A-Frame I am renovating/destroying (depending from where you are looking). It started out innocently enough: “I want to tell you a story...” She then proceeded to give me the full and complete history of the dining room table she kept in the A-Frame and that I have since moved into a barn. “Nice to know,” I thought; it’s always good to know things about your families stuff. But then she ended the letter with, “Now that you know this story, do you really not want the family dining room table?” [emphasis mine]
No, I really do not want the family dining room table. And here’s why: you can live your material life according to any number of value systems. Whether or not you consciously know it, you are doing it right now. And I have decided that my material value system is topped by design aesthetic and not sentimental attachment. It’s a huge shift for me, and a hard one to enforce sometimes, especially when my very much alive grandmother would so obviously like it to be the other way around.
The table is a huge round one and the room is a long narrow one. Trying to keep the table would literally be like trying to fit a round peg into a rectangle hole. It doesn’t look good, it doesn’t function good. It’s just not good. No designer in the world would walk into the A-Frame and go, “Ah yes, a round table is what we need!” And you know what? I want to be a designer in this A-Frame first and a granddaughter second.
Before you think, “You are a heartless bitch,” remember! I am putting photos of my grandparents on prominent display in the living room, I am using many of their other objects for decoration or function, and I kept two huge and profoundly heavy boxes of National Geographics. So what if it was for their yellow spines?