Moving Forward

In the cool and quiet of Sunday morning before my boys are awake, I read the papers on the porch.  The dogs sit, tethered, at the top of the steps, their eyes following the paths of the rabbits.  If one is particularly audacious, nibbling its breakfast particularly close to the house, they whine quietly at their restraints.

I have a newspaper-reading ritual.  I slide both papers from their plastic sleeves and sort the sections from my most favorite to least.  I used to feel guilty that I did not read the front page first.  The hard stuff.   The meaty stuff.  The stuff that challenges both my brain and my tolerance for human behavior.  But last year as I toured a museum with a friend who is a designer, he snapped a picture of a painting and said, “Do you know who the artist is?”

“No,” I replied. “But sometimes I take a take a picture of the label as well and look up the information later on-line.”

“That’s the difference,” he said as he turned to me and smiled.  “You’re curious about things.  I just need the visual.”

He’s curious about things, too, otherwise I wouldn’t like him so well.  But the thing that struck me was how comfortable he was with taking what he wanted, in this case inspiration for a painted floor,  and not turning it into homework.  He was secure in his knowledge of himself and I admired that and wanted to adopt it.

So now, I begin each Sunday with the New York Times “Style” section without guilt. I spend more time here and with “Arts” and “Travel” than I do anything else. And it is only with the slightest bit of embarrassment that I read the “Vows” section.  I skim, really, looking for stories of people who are beginning again. I have an outward shell of practicality, but inside I am a gooey mess of a romantic.

This last week there was a story of a New York psychiatrist who fell in love with a man who took her on their first date to a church in the Bronx where he sings gospel music. They began going to church together, eating together, cooking together, traveling together.  They were equally delighted and devoted. Still, for more than three years he asked her to marry him and she demurred.

“What is it going to take to not be afraid?” he asked her.

“I have no idea,” she replied.

This is the thing, isn’t it? The fear of getting hurt is what trips us up. But all we are doing really is controlling who delivers the pain, as we are surely hurting ourselves. We create invisible tethers that keep us from the danger of the street, when usually there’s nothing more than rabbits in the yard.

I particularly enjoyed the story of Jason Rand’s apartment in Elle Decor, May 2015.  His home is a collaboration with designer, Alexandra Loew, who is a lifelong friend. Remarkably personal, I relish that he has bravely surrounded himself with all this good stuff in a moment where “edit” is on the upswing.  Living like this, I think, is like wearing a little bit of your soul on the outside of your body. 

Image, Elle Decor, May 2015.  Photography, Simon Upton; produced by Robert Rufino.

The story in the Times is here.  The bride wore raspberry.

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17 thoughts on “Moving Forward

  1. Oh Patricia, I so enjoyed reading this post. And all of your posts actually. They have evolved into something so personal, touching and heartfelt. Whenever I finish reading one of them, I realize that my shoulders have dropped down a bit, and I am ready to face the day with more clarity and purpose. Thank you for bringing a bit of calm into my life. And for the visuals too!

  2. Thank you for this story. You have no idea how meaningful and timely it is for me. At the age of 60, I've met and fallen in love with a wonderful man who will be 68 tomorrow. Our relationship has been very much a whirlwind – he told me he loved me on our third date. Between us, we have three homes (one in Victoria, one in Vancouver and one on Galiano Island). We travel back and forth between the three, spending as much time as possible with each other. I'm not retired yet and I also take care of my elderly mother part of the time, so our time together is somewhat limited. He has indicated that he soon will ask me to marry him. I've been alone for 28 years and the thought of being married scares me to death.

  3. Thanks to each of you. And, Squeak, thanks for sharing your story. The whirlwind of falling in love sounds delightful. There's always fear in "what will happen next," I suppose. But a beginning founded in joy seems like a good one. Best of luck.

  4. Patricia this posting is a lot of thoughtfulness to absorb yet so very poignant.
    More than you have written in awhile and words that I have taken to heart.

    The Arts by Karena
    Art Gallery Opening!!

  5. Is that your living room? What a great room! I love the leather daybed. I live with a spouse who has been unfaithful for many years and had to declare bankruptcy. I am still working out whether I will divorce him before his bankruptcy has ended or after. I no longer care about making our home a "home". I am thinking about just packing everything up that I want to keep, leaving just the bare necessities out, and selling the rest. But, I know I'll have a hard time living like that. What would you do? Would you continue to decorate your home for you if you were in my circumstance? I enjoy reading your blog and it helps me w/thinking about my future as a single woman again. Thank you and looking forward to your response.

  6. CA – That is not my living room, but I agree that it is great; I love it, too.

    There is not a lot of advice that I'm prepared to give, but I will weigh in on the decoration of your home. You have lost so much already, I don't know why you would deprive yourself of anything (excepting large numbing doses of legal or illegal substances) that might bring you comfort. I'm sure so much of your life seems false right now and I wonder if that is why you want to pack away the things that mean something to you to keep them safe and separate. In any event, I'd suggest making a great effort to care for yourself. To give yourself as much joy as you can. Wishing you the best of luck, Patricia

  7. Beautiful writing with meaning. Enjoyed this very much this morning. And you were spot on and very tender with your advice by the way. Bravo!

  8. Patricia, your posts are all too rare but always meaningful and well written. You dare to put yourself out there, always in a discreet manner, which is an act of courage. I applaud the idea threads here, from the collector's home brimming with clues to his life, the touching story of new love post- great sadness (kudos to the bride choosing raspberry red- what a great statement!) to the dogs observing rabbit action. All, leading to the issue of daring. Please know this reader is cheering you on!

  9. That room is wonderful! I'm surprised there even was a designer involved – it just looks so "natural". I love your comment about the room leaving a bit of the owners soul on the outsie. That is what my own house it like – it's a biographty of my life and that is why I love it so much.

  10. I, too, pull the sleeves off of my Sunday papers and choose my favorite sections first. For the NY Times, I first grab the magazine section, check out the articles on my way to the crossword puzzle. Then, Arts, Travel, Books, finally the hard stuff, if there's time. On Saturday, I pick up the weekend Wall Street Journal; so nice to have two days to peruse. When busy weekends intrude on this routine, I always feel like I'm missing a part of myself. LOVED THIS POST…ALL OF IT!

  11. Your writing is getting even better. It is more authentic and honest. Whatever journey brought you here, your voice has changed. You have found your best you.

  12. I so loved this post and thank you for the link to the Elle Decor article. What a lovely example of interior design; sorting out all of the treasures to reflect the homeowner. A labor of love really.

  13. I'm giggling at you sorting your sections, pulling out the Style section to be the first read. It is for me as well, that is where I find Modern Love and yes, Vows, which I do still read, for reasons I have not really explored.

    And then I buy the Wednesday Times at Starbucks just to read the Food section, which I pour over each week.

    I do love my papers, sorted just as I please.

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