Wednesday, June 1, 2011

i'm not a "go-together" kind of girl

My life has a habit of revealing its lessons to me in the most random of circumstances. It's a sneaky lil thang, that life, and it's at it again.

Last week it was Jason and I's one-year anniversary (of our first date of course... cue the snickers...) We promised each other not to do gifts BUT two weeks ago I was meandering through a bookshop by my office downtown, and a few prints tacked on the wall caught my eye. I recognized them because Jason had sent me the link to the local artist months and months before. (Anyone that knows me will understand what a miracle it is that I remembered this.) The prints are quirky, colorful and delightfully geeky (oh hey, stormtrooper) which is just perfect for Jason. When I saw them I knew I had to get them (mostly because I'm a terribly insecure gift-giver so when I'm confident somebody will like something, it's such a rare occurrence that I convince myself I HAVE to buy it.) I was beaming with pride as I purchased them, signed by the artist no less, and brought them home to Jason.

Now buying art can be tricky because in order for it to be worth it, you need to have somewhere to put it. The entire time I was picturing the pieces going in the "studio room"of our house. We have a bedroom that has been converted into a studio because Jason's business involves a daily live show on the web. Each wall is painted a different ridiculous color, there is a drawing wall covered in dry-erase paint, cameras/boxlights/cords everywhere, props strewn about...anyway, the point is that the room itself is a hodge-podge of fun, much like these art pieces. I thought, bottabing-bottaboom, they'll join the rest of the quirky wall art in the studio room, I'll be the best gift-giving girlfriend extraordinairre ever and Jason will gush for years to come about my incredibly thoughtful nature.

Well, as I probably should have known, the reaction I planned out in my head (my woman-brain loves to do this - curses!) was not at all what happened in reality. I hadn't explored the thought that Jas might like the paintings so much that he would want them displayed in a more prominent spot in our home, like oh, say, the DINING ROOM aka the first room you see when you enter our house. Now I now realize I should have taken this as the biggest compliment in the world because he loved them enough that he wanted every guest in our home to see them. However, instead of being excited all I could think about was how the bold colors of the paintings totally clashed with the color scheme I had already worked so hard to tie in from the living room. (SERIOUSLY? These are the times I step outside of myself and realize Okay, I kind of get how guys think girls are crazy. Emphasis on kind of, though.

Nevertheless, it's how I felt at the time and the back and forth that followed taught me an important lesson about myself and our relationship, a lesson I thought was worth sharing. Bear with me.

Over the past few months I've been very careful about the things I add to our house. I moved in with Jason about six months ago (hopefully you're not judging. I TOTALLY respect any couple that chooses to wait until marriage to live together, it's just my personal choice to test-drive a person's living habits before committing my eternal life to them.) Despite the fact that I love decorating and DIY, I wanted to hold off on waving my girly wand at his man-cave and taking the uber-masculine edge off the place, at least for a bit. I didn't want to scare him off with my throw pillows and my knick-knacks (do you know how scary these things are to a man that has never lived with a woman?) However, as I started to get more comfortable with the idea of a permanent coexistence (ie. I heard him say the phrase "our house" once and decided I could take my shoes off and stay a while), I decided that adding my flare to the place was not only important in the health of our relationship, but it was necessary for my own personal happiness.

So I did it. One weekend I added throw pillows and placemats and a great tray for the coffee table which accented the dark wood of "our" furniture (wink, wink.) All the while I went to great lengths to pick out things that were warm and cozy but still masculine. I tried so hard to make the haphazard bold colors he originally had (hi random red chairs, oh hey sage green rug) sing harmoniously in something remotely resembling a "palette." And I was happy with the outcome. Even though Jason still doesn't understand the purpose of a coffee table tray to this day (Okay, I know it's a tray, but what's it FOR...) he was accepting and surprisingly grateful for the work I put into the room.

So originally I thought my objection to the mis-matched paintings had to do with the hard work I put in to the whole process. Or I thought maybe it was overcoming the insecurity of turning "his space" into "our space." I thought the decor had all those things wrapped up in it and I was attached to it for those reasons. But I dug deeper (as I always do, for better or for worse) and I tried to be honest with myself about what was really going on.

Here's the thing. I was trying too hard to be perfect. I was trying to make everything "go together" when the truth is, I'm not a "go together" kind of girl. And he's not a "go together" kind of guy. In fact, I'm fairly certain that's what we love about each other. Subconsciously I thought that if our home looked more like something out of a magazine, it made some "statement" about us in a way - that we have it together or that I have it together. But guess what. I don't. Like, not even a little. I have sooo far to go before I have it together and that's the way I like it. I really want to enjoy this time of fun and spontaneity and discovery in my life. I don't want my house to be boring and matchy and perfect, and I certainly don't want our relationship to be that way. We have a mini basketball hoop hanging in our living room for pete's sake and I love it! Who do I think I am?

Anyway, the lesson is this: be authentic. Surround yourself with things that reflect your personality and that make you happy, and who cares if they fit into a "scheme" or a "palette." Life is simply too short to worry about making things match. And ladies, I'm here to tell you, pick your battles. When you find yourself in a back and forth think, Why am I making such a big deal about this? Is it because this is actually important to me, or is it because I think it should be important to me for some artificial reason.

When Jason gets back from traveling, we're ordering frames and those three prints will be hanging in our dining room. Do they go together? Not really. Do they match the decor? No. But do they remind me of the fun life that I get to have every day because of him? Absolutely. And I couldn't think of a better "statement" than that.


  1. I think that's awesome! I like when a house reflects someone's personality and hate when you go into someone's house and you know everything was purchased in a single day at a big box store. Good for you on remembering the prints - I'm usually terrible at gift giving too!

  2. Micaela! Thanks so much for commenting! And agreed. Decided I'd rather not live in a pottery barn (whatever that is!) :)

  3. I love this, and it reminds me of myself as I try to gently introduce my things in to my boyfriend's house. We've been together for almost 2 years, and while we re-did his house together and I got to help him pick out all of the furniture, I felt weird calling it "our house" or "our living room" or texting to say I'll be "home." I'm happy I have a place here, no matter where all of my belongings are located.
    I'm also glad you and Jason are enjoying combining your lives. I love that you make each other so happy. :)

  4. Ahh those knick women and your knick knacks. I was in Dallas shopping with my girlfriend after she moved there. We were in the grocery section and she bought some Easter candy. As she was talking on the phone walking ahead of me (yes, I was pushing the cart). She began to stop and look at this little felt basket in the middle of the isle by the cheeses. Without missing a beat, picked it up and tossed it in the cart and smiled. What did any good boyfriend do after that, well I smiled back and followed along. But at that very moment I then realized (light bulb) how those little knick knacks make it into the house and how they continue to sell year after year in stores.

    Go-together or not, I think women are wired in a way where these things attract them. For my girlfriend, it was cute and could hold the candy. My mind, a waste of money she had dishes at home that could hold candy. In the end I kindly placed the candy in the new basket and gladly grabbed piece after piece here and there out of the new knick knack she purchased and it looked good.

    A home is a place that expresses your true self and Caroline, you are right on your way there. : )

    Congrats to you and Jason on the 1yr and I like the photo you picked, JW style.


  5. Thanks, Adam and I couldn't agree more. I swear we're just wired this way. Question though... how'd you come across this older post? Was it from the links at the bottom of my posts? Just a genuine curiosity since I'm trying to figure out if anyone actually clicks on them! :)