on style, home decor, values & self-expression
A couple of weeks ago I spoke at a conference, and for the first time in one of my talks, I shared details of our Hurricane Harvey story. Despite the heavy topic, the audience was filled with humour writers, so the vibe of my talk was generally upbeat (and Harvey was only one part of what the entire talk was about); however, during the pretty extensive question-answer session, many folks had questions about Harvey -- what recovery looked like, how the city looks these days, that sort of thing.
One woman in the audience stood up. "This is sort of off-topic," she began, "but I was wondering how losing everything has affected how you buy things now."
I have to admit I was taken aback by her question -- not because I was bothered by her asking, but it was a question I'd been asking myself and wrestling with for the last 8 months. When we first evacuated our home, my entire wardrobe, including shoes and accessories, could fit in a carry-on bag -- a far cry from the closet that I had bulging with clothes that no longer fit or were woefully old, and which desperately needed clearing out before the flood. All of our furniture, save for two tables, were lost. I have more clothes now (my wardrobe can probably fit in two checked bags, and that's certainly enough), and we have two beds and a couch; but even so, I've noticed I'm far more mindful about the clothes that I choose and the furnishings we're considering, in an effort to determine not only if we need it, but if they're representative of who we want to be in the world.
I know: that's a lot of meaning to ascribe to a button-down shirt or a pair of jeans or an end-table. But the thing is, when you've lost everything, you're suddenly find yourself presented with a clean slate. And sort of like opening the page in a brand new journal, you can't help but be overwhelmed by the feeling that whatever marks you make on its pages have to count.
And so I end up thinking about what I hope my clothing says about the person wearing them (as much as clothing can do that). And when it comes to our house, I wonder to myself, what do I want people to feel and understand about our family (as much as furniture and home decor can do communicate those sorts of things)? I know that I hope when people meet me, they see a woman who is proud to be black, multiracial, Afro-Caribbean, immigrant, straight-but-gay-ally, Christian-but-deeply-respects-all-religions-and-agnosticism-or-atheism. I hope when people come to our home, they see a family who values their various national and traditional origins (of which there are several in our tiny family!), travel, inclusion, joy, comfort, global community and connection. But what does that mean, when it comes to how we adorn ourselves or our homes? What would that look like?
I'm slowly developing some ideas, and mindfully collecting things (but sometimes slip and buy funky shoes. I'm only human). But it's taking time, and mindfulness, and I'm not even sure if I'm getting it right. I'd be interested to hear from you, though: do you consider what your clothes say about you? Or your home? Or do you consider something entirely different? Or do you just constantly experiment?
Please share your thoughts with me. I'm definitely learning as I go.
Soundtrack: Freedom by Beyoncé featuring Kendrick Lamar. Between Beyoncé's Coachella performance and Kendrick's Pulitzer Prize, 2018 is definitely their year.