I headed to Fayetteville this weekend and stayed at my friend Autumn's house. It’s always fun to stay with her because in addition to being fun and sassy, Autumn bakes. A few years ago, she started making custom cakes, and there are usually some samples in the fridge. This weekend there were orange creamsicle cupcakes, which I am happy to report were awesome!
I’m in awe of my friends who have bought houses because it seems like an incredibly grown up thing to do, and I love to grill them about how they pick paint colors. There are so many options, how can you decide? Autumn painted her walls with lots of bold colors, which I love, and it all goes together in this way that I like but would never have thought to try. Coming home this afternoon, I am reminded that I have stalled in setting up my own apartment.
I started off in the right direction. For this last move, I bought a sofa that is neither a futon nor from Goodwill. I have furniture made of actual wood, and when my best friend, Christi, came to visit, we spent two days picking out dishes, measuring cups, and decorative things. She even bought me a spatula as a housewarming gift. But there are still a few boxes that are placed just out of the way enough that I haven’t felt the need to sort them, and not for lack of trying, I still have no idea what to do with my bathroom. Christi and I went to five stores in three cities trying to find bathroom stuff, and by the time we got to Bed, Bath, and Beyond I have no idea how she resisted the urge to shake me. Whatever the reason is, though, I’m pretty sure it’s the key to our friendship.
The problem was that when it comes to setting up house, I am both incredibly picky and at the same time totally indifferent. My fussiness means that I can whittle the things I like down to a good half dozen options, but after that, I don’t like any of them enough to pick one over the rest. At the end of the day, I was standing in front of a wall full of towels, struggling to decide if I liked any one shade of blue more than the others. At least four of them were equally nice but not particularly compelling. I turned to Christi. “Do you want to kill me right now?” I asked.
“Let’s just go,” I suggested. I was frustrated, and I knew that I wouldn't make a decision when I felt that way.
“No, we can do this,” she insisted. She was calm and patient, but Christi is a scientist, and I got the sense that she wanted to prove to me that this was, indeed, possible. She was the opposite in me in that sense because she was largely indifferent (Buy a bathmat or don’t. Either way, really. ) and at the same time passionate (Mick, this is doable).
I took a deep breath and picked up a bathmat I liked. But there were no towels that matched exactly. Christi showed me several that were close, and I rejected them all: too blue, too grey, too green, not green enough. Thinking that the problem was that she was holding them right next to one another, she dropped the mat on the floor and held a towel up waist high. She looked at me expectantly, and even though I hated myself for admitting it, I shook my head. “They don’t match,” I told her. “It’ll bug me.” We looked at every towel in the place and with the exception of a pack of kitchen towels to go with my new dishes, I had deemed them all unacceptable for one reason or another. Christi finally admitted defeat, and we decided to get some Indian food and head home. But when I suggested, that I didn’t even think I wanted the dishtowels, she gave me a look and said, “After all the time we spent in this store? You’re buying something.” We both giggled deliriously…and then I bought the towels.
A month later, I called Christi to tell her I had found a deal on towels and bought a set. I wasn’t married to them, I admitted, but they were cheap enough that when I finally figured out what I wanted, I wouldn’t feel guilty replacing them.
“What’d you decide to get?” she asked.
“They’re sage green,” I told her.
“Sage green?” she sounded like she might be laughing at me a little bit. After all the time I had spent looking for something bright or funky or retro or quirky, I’d picked a color that was really none of those things.
She couldn’t quite suppress a snicker. After a long pause, she pulled herself together and diplomatically said, “I didn’t even know that was in the running.”
Four months later, I have still not come up with an idea. Or, rather, I’ve had seven ideas that won’t work together, and I can’t decide between them. But after spending a few days at Autumn’s, I’ve decided to try, try again.