Camera in hand, I had, at first, a compulsion to tidy...straighten the books, dust up. But then, no. Maybe I'm woefully misguided (in certain ways I conclusively am), but I find a slightly chaotic living room romantic. Something about books left in medias res (bookmarked, abandoned as they were), candles huddled, a record sleeve laying oblique, playful, unexpected.
In a creative nonfiction class, we once discussed the notion of essay-as-wunderkammer. And I love that. It was a shape-defining moment for me. It confirmed what I would write, and how I would do it, and what it would mean. (And lately, I have been squirreling my words away for another thing, a thing bowing into this form.)
I reckon the concept felt so resonant because the wunderkammer is a form I've loved in the literal sense -- its appearance in the places we occupy. The slow amassing of curiosities, their strange arrangement, the invitation to be at play, a dialogue with maker & taker. It's a sort of dialogue I imagine is filled with many ooo's and aaahh's and perhaps a bottle of wine shared amongst old friends. Red wine, glasses unmatched. So, yes. That's what I'm after. In living rooms, in stories, in life.
On the other hand, I've a friend whose living room is bare. She, the essentialist. One candle. Books thinned with precision & regularity. And I love that. I too cannot concentrate in a too-busy, too-messy place...and yet...I do not land in this pristine nest, but fall somewhere in the in-between, the amorphous space between well-ordered and complete and utter disaster.
But that is ok.
I am learning to love things without being them.
And I suppose what I'm after is this: a room that looks like a soul.
I feel that here. His books tucked in with mine (my maybe-too-many books). Tapered candles drip unruly, find new shape. The row of records we are slowly building. A conch shell and coral from an old woman I never met who gave them to someone else who gave them to us. A tiny sofa we can't all quite fit on, but sometimes attempt to, dog feet and people feet petering out at unnatural angles. The black Underwood I searched for, seemingly forever; I gave up, and it sought me instead. Prints found d & carried ever so carefully on an airplane back from Paris. Somewhere hidden, the world's luckiest penny (a story for another time).
Often, I look around this room and consider it. I am not a person particularly taken with planning, but I can't help but envision it a hundred different ways inspired by as many moods. I see her with chandelier. The art needs to go up, I think. It would be better moodier, grayer (the silhouettes on certain brown-and-black-covered books express this, however enigmatically, to me). And I like the idea of eschewing white paint for gray, for stripping a thing of its potential and making it be, decidedly, something. And the rest of the books turned inwards. Some of them covered, old parchment, calligraphy on spines. I imagine something like the apartment in Mr. Morgan's Last Love...
I think someday. But I am after a room that looks like a soul; and as such, I find a bit of imperfection, a bit of unresolved mess, a bit of pining...is merely, delightfully, a sign of life.