Monday, March 16, 2009

Like Water Dressed in Brown

I've been thinking a lot about the trappings of adulthood. Some of these thoughts have been triggered by Petunia Face's downsizing and her fantabulously decorated coffee table. During most of my single years (of which there were many), I, too, painted my furniture in funky colors, and my apartment decor from that era could probably be best described as grad-school-kitch or, perhaps, used-bookstore kitch (although certainly not so stylish as other people's kitchy pads). Even when I got a full-time job and bought a condo, entering the beginnings of responsible adulthood, I painted my living room walls red and yellow, and my home office decor was a fun combo of purple and orange. My couch was a futon, and much of my furniture came from garage sales. But while in that condo, I did start to purchase matching furniture from furniture stores. That, I think, was the beginning of the slow and inevitable (?) change.

And now everything is muted and matched. The paint spectrum in my house goes from aspic to mocha. I drive a grey Honda Odyssey. I have matching towel sets (white and brown). The hallway bathroom is grey and white. Granted, I do have bongos in the corner of the living room and a guitar hanging on the wall, but those seem like vestiges of a time gone by, especially since I rarely play any more. And they are sort of canceled out by the glider rocking chair that we got when I was pregnant with my son, which sits in the living room facing the TV. I could blame it on my husband, who likes symmetry, or the kids (the reasons for the glider), but I know it goes beyond my husband's conservative tastes or the need for things to be kid-friendly. I know this because my wardrobe, which I alone pick out, has gone from brightly colored prints to solid brown, green, ivory, and black.

Last week, I was at someone's house who has four-year old twins. A giant wall in the living room was painted with yellow, orange, and red, like a bright, firey sky. Not aspic.

I do not want to romanticize the fact that Petunia Face and her family have been forced to downsize. But as I see her glam-up her coffee table, start driving an older car, and focus on her writing instead of working at other jobs to pay a mortgage, I just wonder why we get so caught up in the trappings of adulthood. Granted, having a retirement fund is a very good thing. I do not sneeze at financial security. Having enough money to pay the bills is not merely a trapping. It's the real deal. But why does this security so often come with muted color tones, ugly athletic wear, and the letting go of dreams?

Or maybe it's just me.

I've been thinking about getting a tattoo.


baxie said...

'grown ups' have grim matching junk from Pottery Barn because it's easy and fast.

I have fought off the doldrums enough to paint the living room Goldenrod, the stairway Sage and the bedroom Sonata, but as for everything else...I bought a new washer and dryer from Sears (even though Craigslist would have saved me a bundle) because Sears delivered.

Parents tend to follow the path of least resistance because the energy they used to spend on off-roading is now funneled into family and work.

Petunia Face said...

You should totally get a tattoo of my coffee table.

This whole experience of my downsizing is like a financial Flowers for Algernon. Ignorance is bliss, and so is relative poverty with running water and health insurance.

Ink said...

Oooh...great post, GEW. Very thought-provoking. (I wonder if we go greyer to match our hair?) I think Baxie's point is right on, too...there's only so much energy to go around. And Petunia Face, what a positive's inspiring! Wishing you all well during these troubled times.

Dr. No said...

You know, I just wrote a comment and then my computer experienced some sort of sorry for this lame comment Good Enough Woman. But I have the tattoo itch too, you go first!

Academic, Hopeful said...

Thought I would comment on this one as I have not read Twighlight or New Moon. Thanks for stopping by my blog.

As for all this post, I can relate to many of your sentiments and questions. I am such a dramatic person - I can drive myself into a frenzy of worry about how I am going to be boxed in by Ikea goods and shades of mushroom and aubergine.

But at the same time, I feel awfully entitled to a certain lifestyle (even if I have never actually lived in a way that fully expresses this entitlement).

My sister continues to warn me that it becomes more difficult once one has children. I guess we just have to keep writing, reflecting, sharing, and then perhaps doing defiant, wild things every now and then to create movement.