Thursday, November 07, 2013

The Old Scrapbook of Domestic Fantasies

Every night I go abroad, afar into the land of... well, of Pinterest, actually. Before I can go to the land of Nod, I often browse the pretty pictures and inspiring Pins at Pinterest. It's part daydreaming, part good-idea-shopping, and probably one of the reasons I rarely pick up a magazine any more. Honestly, I feel a bit sheepish about this admission, because these cannot be easy days for paper-in-the-hands publications, but between the blogs I read, and the bedtime stories Maria and I share, I have all the inspiration and fresh ideas I need. More than I can, practically use, that's for sure!

Last night I dragged out the heap that was lurking in the closet, the one with recipes, wishes, dreams, ideas, and clippings. One spiral bound notebook, with cut-n-paste pictures from magazines I was browsing in the late eighties, through the nineties. It's old school Pinterest! A picture diary of what I liked, what I loved, the life I was aiming for, the spaces I dreamed of. I clipped and pasted recipes, articles, travel suggestions, health tips. I saved images that inspired me. The other was a three-ring binder, with more recipes, and a mix of papers tossed in for later reading-filing-pasting. Papers. Papers. Papers.

I decided to dive in and rescue the keepers, recycle the rest, and try to get things into reasonable order. Honestly, I wish I were as tidy, diligent, and dutiful as all these images and articles inspire me to be. That's my dark-side with magazines and social media... I love it, like a really decadent dessert, but then I am left feeling wholly inadequate, with a bad taste in my mouth and a sad ache inside. I do not want to dwell on this point, because I'm practicing another focus, and I still want to be organized, prepared, diligent, effective, so I try, try, try again. But I would be remiss in not admitting that I struggle. I struggle a lot.

"Perfect Playdough!" The recipe I share in this post really is awesome, but when I went back to read the post I wrote six years ago... oh my! I really do struggle. That was a bit of a rough time, and yet I was still trying reach for that oh-so elusive familial grace, serenity, and domestic effectiveness. I've never made the bubbles, or the finger paints, but I am happy to have made the play dough.

This. I. Excuse me a moment, while I try to comprehend my blessings.

Bunnies, chickens, gardens, inviting spaces we call our own. All of this was pinned in my scrapbook, and I still can gaze at these images, these hopes and wishes, and feel that longing and hope to be there, to live that life. And now. Now, we are keeping bunnies, and watching chickens. Goats, too! We have this amazing space we call our own. Dreams coming true. It's humbling and sweet.

This place, and these blessings are amazing to me. I don't think I've shared this... some days, driving home, I turn onto our street and I start to cry. I feel overcome by relief and joy, and astonishment to be driving home. To be in this place, where we have so much to enjoy and share, and feel good about, and it feels brand new, it feels unreal, or too good to be true. I think I am learning a new story, opening a new chapter, one where I want to learn to trust the feeling of home, to feel some degree of certainty that we belong, that we can stay awhile, and settle in.

And one more thing... besides being distracted and prone to extended bouts of laziness and chores-boredability: I do not know how to keep a home. Right about the time I have started to feel settled, or understand the rhythm of the home, and get a routine going, we have moved. All my life. The only time I have ever unpacked every box and bag, it lasted for two months before we packed and moved, again. Six years in one place is my record, and even there we spent two years doing repairs that required us to cook on the porch and shower outside the kitchen window... good times, but slightly disruptive! I know. Life is disruptive, but it cannot help that even now, I have this compulsive instinct to wonder if it might be time to pack up? Even now, I hesitate to paint walls. I still have a reluctance, a feeling of disconnect with this space, and my place in it.

Maintenance and upkeep... those are two concepts I am eager to get intimately familiar with! We have been here, in our Bird House, four years, and I have been feeling an undercurrent, a cognizant buzz, and I have to remind myself to settle down. I do not need to collect boxes, check real estate ads, stop at open houses. I need to hang pictures. I need to organize drawers, for the long term. I don't need to keep things ready to go. I need to let go of stuff that doesn't fit here, because here is where we live. However obvious some things are, some things still have to be learned.

Sort of talking to myself, here. I am in a learning moment.

I think I will hang on to my old scrapbook of domestic fantasies. I think I should add to it, too. It comforts me. It inspires me. It used to be a wish book, but now it also feels like a gratitude journal.

I did manage to pull out a lot of papers, recipes, clippings that we don't need. I tried to be honest and brutal, and not too sentimental. I put recipes into protective slipcovers, and back into the binder, with subject dividers. It looks very organized. Cheers for me! Now, I have my mom's Bourbon Pecan Cake recipe, with the stains and the notes, and the lifetime of memories and family stories that go with it, and it's tucked in with other favorite recipes, and memories. It feels good to have this done.

It feels good to look back and see where we've been. I am still learning. I am blessed to be still learning, wishing, and moving forward.


Theresa said...

No way. I do the same thing. Just worked on it today!

judy in ky said...

You are doing great, Natalie!

CJ said...

What a lovely book. And the recipes are wonderful, such a piece of your history. I'm glad that so many of your dreams have come true. Hope you have a really good weekend.