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We still have 20 unpacked boxes lining the front foyer wall of our apartment. I tell you this because I imagine it’s what attending confession feels like – you will furrow your brow at me, tell me to think about why I’ve left ugly boxes sitting there for three months, and then instruct me to say the Unpacker’s Prayer twice. And now that I’ve told you, I have to do something about it.

The 20 boxes are filled with books, and I want to display them very much. The problem is that we don’t have bookcases just yet. Nor do we have a complete desk area. We also need a coffee table. We only have one area rug, and we probably need two others. We already have a headboard, but after seeing L’s post about her homemade headboard, now I want to make one, too. Oh, and I would love a new arrangement of our dresser set. I think we’re out of milk, too, and would you mind picking up some toilet paper?

When you live on the year-to-year lease cycle, it dawns on you that you might only have one year in a single place (jeebus, I hope not – but considering what happened to us last time, I’m a bit jittery). You thusly understand just how important it is to get unpacked and settled quickly. You want this place to be yours. You want it to have the stamp of your (collective) styles. When you come through the front door, you want to be home.

I stared at the 20 boxes of books this morning and decided that I wanted – nay, needed – to get art** on the walls. Now. Because, I concluded, while we’re waiting on bookcases to make the space more our own, at least we could start putting nails in the walls and hanging pretty things. I had grown tired of the unoffending cream of the paint.

(** I say “art,” but I use this term loosely. We own posters of various worth — worth ranging from “none” to “very little.”)

So I told my husband about what I wanted to do. This is how the conversation went:

Me: I want to start hanging art. Today.

Him: (eating pretzels and reading a book, interrupted) Before we have all the furniture?

Me: Yes.

Him: But what if we move furniture around and the stuff we hang has to come down?

Me: What if?

Him: Nail holes will be in the wall.

Me: (dramatized for effect) We’ve already been here for three months! We’re running out of time! When do we start living? We can’t live a static life just because furniture might need to be rearranged! Should we never hang any art at all for fear of nail holes? When do we start enjoying our lives? We’re almost DEAD!

Him: (long beat) OK. Where do you want to hang this stuff?

So there’s some art on the walls now:

This lady hangs in our kitchen and chastises us if we cut our bagels too hastily.

True story: this is really the front of a greeting card made by women at a shelter in Peru. Her hair is made of flower petals.

This lady watches you shower while also coming dangerously close to exposing herself.

And I do feel better now, really I do. I feel that the space is our own; it puts a smile on my face to walk around the apartment and feel it filled with our touches. I like the pops of color. It looks good, despite the boxes. I feel more moved in.

But as the world turns, as the sun rises, and as the moon is bright, my better half was right – some things are worth waiting for. As we hung up the pieces, I could see just how important it was to think of the apartment in gestalt terms; these pieces were only smaller ones in a larger puzzle, and we needed to carefully consider the place as a whole. Would this piece work here, for example, if the area rug we need and will get is a conflicting color?

I learned – dare I say it? – to have some patience in approach, and not to let the panic get to me. As a compromise, we agreed to hang art only in those areas we knew would probably not change, or change very little. And we left remaining art in its bubble wrap, awaiting the final arrangement of our space. The final arrangement of our home. And I’m OK with that.

Which is to say: those bookshelves can’t come fast enough.