The dining table is covered in china. Old and new, a mixture of styles, periods, qualities, the accumulated bits and pieces tell a story and create a history. When I loaded these things into the car I was not sure what I would do with the pieces. As I opened the boxes and placed pieces on the table, mixing them with pieces I already owned, I was surprised at the many ways all these disparate bits fit together and made new connections.
Rather than create a panoramic shot, I intentionally made a collage because I am intrigued by the sometimes surprising ways things mix together. I am also intrigued by questions of taste and style and the way our style is a reflection of the accumulated influences of our lives and the people we have become. Hence, you also get the headless photo of me as well as the china. But more about that later.
Style in dress shows the self we wish to present to the world. Increasingly I think our homes also could reflect ourselves, although in a more intimate and private way. Also our homes may be shared, reflecting influences of those we love, and the meeting of these influences and choices is also a more personal interaction. As for me, I am realizing that my love of pretty dishes is where I let my more romantic inclinations run freely. Tables are for sharing with others. But I also think the act of setting a table, of putting out china and glassware, of making it pretty, rather than merely functional, is a very romantic thing. I like the romance of the meal, not just the nutrition offered by the food.
But this idea of romance and style, the personal and the public, and the way our environments and our choices in those environments reflect aspects of ourselves, remains a relatively new chain of thought. I have formed no cogent conclusions. And yet I see a portrait forming. And although I recognize it as a portrait of myself, I also recognize that the image that is emerging does not coincide with the words I would have previously used to describe myself. Am I so bad at self awareness? Perhaps. But then again, perhaps not. It may be a question of acceptance, of accepting this softer side, of allowing vulnerabilities to show.
Or I may just be full of baloney.
On this table there are dishes belonging to my great-grandmother, my grandmother, and my mother. There are dishes that George and I chose together, dishes George bought for me as gifts, things I chose myself. There are dishes with direct ties to memory, and others that really mean nothing to me, that have no significance other than the fact that they were on my table. My mother wanted to downsize. I still like to play with pretty things and set pretty tables. I chose the pieces I would take so it is not surprising that they should work together. Many of the pieces are not strong, dramatic, full of contrast. I am not a person who loves high contrast. I am not a person who loves white plates, although I did indeed go through a brief period where I thought I did. It wasn't that I wanted white plates, what I wanted was clarity, and that is another story.
I like the way the pieces work together, sharing similar colors and shades, without bold pops of color, without high contrast and drama. I don't like full sets of china, all the pieces belonging together, but I do like things that work together. This is also how I like to dress. I like color and I like to coordinate, but I don't want to be either too matchy-matchy or to wear too much contrast. Hence the headless outfit. My feet won out over my head because I love the way the soft colors of the outdoor carpet harmonize with the colors of the concrete, adding subtle gradations of texture and color, just as I also love the way my grandfather's planters and the flowers blend with the bricks and the door and the reflections of greenery in the window to make a harmonious whole. It struck me today that the things I love and even who I am and the choices I make all arise out of my own personal history and decisions, but that the origins of these things have roots in the histories and the choices of the people who influenced my early life even without my conscious awareness of their influence.
Welcome to my front door. Welcome to my house, my table, my blog, my world. It is not a perfect world, no world is, and there are all kinds of disjointed and inconsistent bits and bobs milling about and a few rough edges here and there. But then rough-edges-are-us, we humans.
The photo can be enlarged with a mouse-click. The small inset photo above my shoulder shows my colors in indoor lighting, where they are softer. Outside the outfit is a little bright, and I feel a little more exposed by its brightness, but hey, those rough edges are always popping out despite our best intentions.