Saturday, April 24, 2010

House Beautiful

I found wisdom last week in the least likely of sources-- in House Beautiful, a decorating magazine I was given while pretending to be interested in buying Farrow & Ball paint. (I was secretly poaching Farrow & Ball paint colors to be mixed by the good people at Benjamin Moore--half the price!) And not to worry, dear reader, my gained wisdom is outside the realm of decorating, just bear with me.

While House Beautiful isn't my standard periodical of choice, it was there in front of me, and I'll take reading over shop small talk any day. I gladly jumped right into a world that describes bathtub faucets as 'voluptuous' and has entire articles devoted to things like 'different ways to stain reclaimed wood'.

Truth be told, I actually enjoy the decorating game (whenever I hear the word 'decorator' I think of Breakfast at Tiffany's. "He's already got a decorator. I'm the agent." It's such a dark film, isn't it? People forget that because of the pastry scene, but it's based on a Truman Capote novel! ANYWAY...) I am interested in people who fall in love with everyday things, and the world of interior design falls neatly into a category of passionate people who pour love into their craft--people whose eyes light up when describing a color of gray paint or a method of silk upholstery.

In an article titled 'The New Look of Wood is Tinted,' Susan Ferrier was asked about the domed birdcage centerpieces that she chose for a (stunning!) lake house's dining room table. Was there a story behind it? Her answer:

"Not really. [Finding the centerpieces was] purely visceral. I found them in Paris and just had to have them. Then I thought, 'These will really work in the house'-- even though I wasn't sure how. First you fall in love, then you rationalize. Isn't that always the case? Certainly with anything that lasts."

I read that last sentence, there in Farrow & Ball on Mercer Street, five times over with a dropped jaw before blinking back into fake-designer mode. Susan Ferrier, whoever she is, just said a mouthful and had absolutely no idea. First you fall in love, then you rationalize.

She is speaking of a centerpiece, for Pete's sake, of bits of wood and glass recreated to look like miniature trees or robins' eggs or something. But her offhand musings about Parisian antiques reached right out of House Beautiful and into my heart. Her simple words completely dissected and reassembled my current state of affairs. (So to speak.) We rationalize not because we believe ourselves to be right but because we cannot do otherwise. Because we've already gone past the point of okay.

I moved to a new apartment this weekend, did I tell you that? I haven't been here at the ol' blog much lately, but not for lack of content. I've seen plays and eaten dinners and read books with time that I, quite frankly, didn't have to spare.

Packing was packed in between seeing American Idiot and walking a million miles for MS research. Painting happened between a Florence and the Machine concert and dinner uptown with my best friend Meghan one gorgeous Thursday evening. Moving physically took place during work hours, as my time ran out on the weekends. I didn't stop my life for this move, but I did, in some ways, redirect my mind.

You see, the second part of Ferrier's verse (verse!) is the most important. Annie and I spoke of this very concept on my bare mattress the night before I moved away from 50 Downing Street. I made her sit there with me like school girls well into the night, in part mourning for the loss of this time and in part needing some perspective.

We talked about what it means in the context of relationships-- why do we continue to rationalize? Why not just quit? Because just like that studio apartment, those trees, that temptress of solitude... we fall first and rationalize later. It's why we say yes to that lease, it's why we hurt people, and it's why we get hurt as well. Isn't that always the case? Certainly with things that last.

I'm back though. I'm back here, in this space, and in a new space of my own. I'm tucked on a little street between the East River and a park, just past the BQE, and overlooking a willow tree. I'm there between my books and my art and the purple soap dish that once belonged to my Grandmother.

My white duvet is there beneath my Felix Gonzalez-Torres light bulb photographs, next to my Rock and the water cups that collect on my nightstand as the week wears on. I have a fire escape that faces a garden and a pot of mint tea on the stove, if you're interested. Come over for a visit. We'll watch Breakfast at Tiffany's and talk about anything that lasts.


Mach1 said...

Now these are the pictures I've been waiting for.

David Henly said...

Sarah - good luck in your new place. Keep writing - i'll keep reading. No rationalizations.... ps - Where can i find some Felix Gonzales-Torres prints? email me at Hope to see you this summer when i make a trip to NYC to see the Katester.

Sarah said...

The prints are actually photographs that I took of Felix Gonzalez -torrres' lightbulb installation at moma. Ill see if I still have digital copies to send you!

Gail said...

I think I have just read my new favorite quote for the week. May I borrow it? I can't believe you found it in a decorating magazine!