"I don't know what you're talking about."
"Well, let's just mix it up a bit! It sounds interesting! I signed us up, you are going."
"Where is it? Brooklyn?"
And thus our night began.
I don't really know what inspired me to sign up for a decorating class to begin with, let alone a class with a woman who claims to value clutter and unmade beds, but it was held at Anthropologie, John is usually up for anything, and I was in the mood for something other than dinner.
I feel like I've been at a party since the middle of October, taking cabs home late and needing bagels in the morning. I was in the mood to do something inspiring, instead of thought-provoking. Not a movie. Not a book reading. Not a show. I didn't want to have to mingle and I didn't want to strain my senses to impress anyone. I basically wanted to hang out with a room full of Me's, and will not apologize for that. No boys allowed, you see.
We were greeted with gingerbread cookies and fancy Missoni San Pellegrino sparkling water by a stunning woman in a one-piece jumpsuit wearing a huge smile and generous spirit. Mary Randolph Carter, or Carter as she prefers, led the course, and for a brief hour and a half let us into her world.
She is a woman who adores living, simply put. Her passion is infectious, and as she danced around a few of her belongings-- yard sale paintings, handmade linens, mix-matched porcelain teacups-- we too started smiling and relaxing and loving it all in unison. She used the word 'love' so often that she began stopping herself, although I wish she wouldn't have. 'I love these curtains!' 'I love these little dogs.' 'I love using painters' palates in place of placemats!!!' 'I hate sofas, I really do, but I love covering them with pillows and wool blankets and beautiful things." Just insane enough to make us feel comfortable. A real nut.
Yet her enthusiasm swirled around the vibrantly set table, fit for a mad-hatter or wild poet, or Monica on Friends, and landed on our tongues. She taught us to fall in love with our surroundings and to create homes for living in, and to leave the housekeeping for the birds. She's the anti-Martha you might say (although Martha and Carter have been 'friends for years!') and thank goodness for that. Our homes should rise up and greet us, she sang. They should be a reflection of the people who live there. They should make us feel happy, alive, and like our own Best Selves.
In the end, it was just what I needed. She's an artist, really, although she doesn't paint, her home is her canvas. (A peek, here!) I asked her about the painting, I assumed she did. I also asked her what music she would be playing during her Thanksgiving dinner and she said 'Coldplay. Or Cole Porter. Or both!' She has a new book out, called 'A Perfectly Kept House is the Sign of A Misspent Life' with all of this included. Perfect, right? Such a good title.
I took the F train home that night feeling a little more like myself. I live on the Brooklyn side of the East River, just a hop from the Brooklyn Bridge, two lefts off the BQE. I walked in my door as I do every night, after shoving it in with my hip-- it sticks a bit. I was greeted by my varied paintings, my white duvet, my butcher block table, and my favorite poem on the fridge. My over-thought grey walls sat back and smiled; the shelving that I hung all by myself puffed out its chest in approval; and my tissue paper flowers all nodded hello. 'Hello, house,' I said aloud. I'm a nut myself, you see. Life is a little tricky right now, but it will get better. Sometimes all it takes is taking a night off and saying hello to the person that is you.
Thanks, Carter. Loved it.
Thanks, Carter. Loved it.