It always pays to measure something for a size comparison, not just look at the measure when you are buying off the internet.
I am a very experienced internet shopper. Not often, but every once in a while I get surprised by the size of something I ordered. A few years back I ordered some very nice drinking glasses off the internet and when they came I discovered why they were on sale–they were sized for Jack the Beanstalk. You could fit a quart of milk in one glass and have room left over.
Today our beautiful blue sink arrived. The box looked big but we thought it was probably because it was so nicely packed. When we opened the box it was in fact well packed. When we pulled back the packaging there sat the most beautiful gigantic blue bowl you could imagine. We looked at it intently. With effort I picked it up and said, “We could just plug the hole and use it for a centerpiece. In jest but also so we could look at it, I plopped it down in the middle of a huge circular coffee table here in the temporary house with the green shag carpet and orange upholstery. I can tell now how that sink is going to be used–as an art bowl.
Vessel sinks started out as bowls that someone put a hole in and then hooked up a drain. I remember it used to be to use a wash basin from a 1890s wash stand. I have even seen them made from chamber pots. After our decision to use the sink as a bowl, we feel quite smug returning the sink to its original form.
As we stood there looking down on the bowl we discussed what a great deal it as on such a large decorator glass bowl. We even have an extra pop-up valve to use in the new house. Those cost $19.99 so we are even further ahead. I am not sure what to do with the waterfall faucet. It looks sort of like a mace from the days of yore when people used those sorts of weapons. Since we don’t have any use for any weapons of war in our house I suppose it will be donated to the Habit for Humanity Re Store with no comment from us about how much like a weapon it looks. Surely someone needs a giant blue water faucet.
All of this makes me think about life in general. We can believe something is one thing, and it fact it can be that thing but maybe it should not be. It is something along the lines of putting a square peg into a round hole but in reality is it more than that. It is about not having the vision to see what is truly there rather than what is on the surface.
In home remodeling and decorating seeing something in a way that others have not is call it repurposing. Vessel sinks were re purposed from bowls. Our bowl was repurposed from a sink. Even that does not allow for the deeper part of seeing what is not on the surface. We both saw the skill and care that went into making the bowl. It is a manufactured item that is on the low price range in bathroom things but someone cared how that bowl turned out. Ours and the thousands of others that are just like it were brought to life by someone who had intent and vision, someone who saw the bowl and then how it could be used.
Experiencing the fire has caused us to see things differently. We have our kitchen fully replaced and are balanced with our stuff and the stuff from this fully furnished rental house. Getting things to stay in their places is a balancing act. This week we added two travel coffee mugs which set the kitchen into a dither. Where could they be stored? My spouse pulled out a cheap florist basket that had arrived full of flowers as a gift soon after the fire. It was misshapen and so cheaply made that it was coming apart. As he was looking for a place to put it I said, “you can just recycle that, we don’t need it, it was just precious to us after the fire when everything was important.” We stopped to reflect on that. It made us realize how far we have come. Those first few weeks even a dirty sponge was something. It was not a sponge, it was something that had not burned. It was something that contributed to our lives that was still there.
After having the thought we noticed in multiple places things that was really junk but had been our treasure. I found part of an ironing board cover that did not fit and I had made into seat pads and a dog bed. I cut the top fabric off of it to use the stuffing. I saved the top. As I think of it now I could make that top into a couple napkins which would be repurposing. That is seeing a use for something that another did not see. I did see the true meaning of those scraps. They were our solace, they were what we clung to in order to feel like we had something that was ours, not the hotels, or this temporary house’s. Those scraps of fabric and the misshapen basket were our home. When we moved to this temporary house after a month in the hotel we had stuff to bring with us. That stuff. We had things to pack. It was that stuff.
So we learned from that stuff two things. First, we learned that the stuff could be repurposed and that the new purposes can be useful and even beautiful. Second, and more importantly, we learned the meaning of the things. Their meaning was about our attachment to the world and the tragic event that lead to us not having a home.
It would seem reasonable that everything would look different and would sparkle and we would ooze gratitude to have things for our home. There is a little of that but there is more than that. Mostly we look for the familiar. We look for glasses just like we had. We look for socks just like we had, we look for cars just like we had and we look to each other to be just like we were. We have found a remarkable number of things that are just like what we had but we are not just like we were.
We are changed. We have more vision to see what is truly there rather than what is on the surface. We see more in each other and each others opinion. We see more kindly the bad habits that each of us drives the other crazy with. We see more about the things that the other needs to be comfortable. We see more about why energy goes up or down and about struggling to staying on task at work. We worry when the other is not sleeping and tiptoe around not making noise so they won’t wake up.
I am not sure how long we will continue to see what something is rather than what it is being used for. Perhaps that vision will be an artifact of the fire and all of the changes that came with it. Perhaps it will go away tomorrow. Regardless, being able to see more of the true purpose of each other and those around us heartens us and love comes forth and is carried to the other as a gift. No matter how carefully you measure that, you will never know how large it really is.
Anne Pratt said:
So moving, Beth. I am reminded of going through my late sister’s (plentiful) things, unable to discard photos of people I didn’t know, holding tightly to the dishes from the house where we grew up, but needing to find new homes for all of the things a 2,300 sq. ft. home could hold.
I am touched by your story. I am glad that this one touches you. Things are important representations of the fact that we were in the world.