Second Sight (I)

We’re actually beginning to settle into a bit of a fall routine here, which, among many many other things, includes passing a cold around the house like a hot potato.

It’s not swine flu.  Honest.

On Saturday, the Husband, who as of this month has been married to me for 14 years and now knows me almost better than I do myself, swung by the library and stocked up on a stack of books for all the readers in the family, both great and small, in case anybody needed to take to their beds and nurse their colds.

The stack contained a baker’s dozen of coffee table books for me of the genre that can only honestly be called “house porn.” And though looking at such might be cruel and unusual punishment for some, for me it was exactly what the doctor ordered, and I spent a happy couple of hours on Sunday paging through glossy photographs of living rooms containing only an ornate mantelpiece and an Eames chair.

Like most aficionados of such things, I have very particular predilections.  I like the furniture I’m looking at to be mid-century modern, the rooms that furniture sits in to be completely absolutely clutterfree  — the better for me to concentrate on the aesthetics of the shadow cast by the orchid sitting in the handcrafted vase on the kitchen counter.

For years I’ve thought looking at books like this —not that I think much about this bad habit, it being a particularly mindless pleasure — made me hungry to possess a house that looked like the ones being depicted in the photographs, which tended to dilute the pleasure  with a touch of anxiety. If only, I would think, if only.

But this weekend I realized that the hunger books like this instill in me isn’t actually to have a different life, but to be able to see the life that I already have differently.

I actually already have what I long for:  it’s just that I often tend to focus on what’s outside the frame, instead.  The children’s dirty clothes flung on the floor instead of the perfect wedge of cloudless blue-glazed sky in the window just above it.

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