Hey, baby, what’s your style?
One thing you’ve all been watching me do for the last year is make my house my own – mine, instead of ours. I didn’t realize how scanning in all these old photos was going to help me with that.
Every time I try to think “what did I like, before Tim? What did I want? How did I decorate? What did I surround myself with?” it all sort of slips away from me, like trying to catch a greased pig. I want to decorate this house the way I want to because I live here. But I don’t want to because it also seems like getting rid of Tim. Which is impossible because he’s everywhere here. But I’m so used to… to waiting for him to say that it’s OK for me to hang a picture somewhere, or put up a bookshelf… it feels weird to not have to wait for his permission. It feels sad that I used to have to wait for his permission. Why do we not realize how small we make ourselves for others until after it’s too late to go back to being ourselves with those same people?
Slowly, last month, as I was scanning pictures, I came across a great many of them taken in places I’ve lived. Places I’ve lived alone. Places I decorated just for myself. Places where I was most myself.
The above are apartments from various stages of my life and places in my life from about 1986-1993. Apparently themes that run through my life are houseplants, cats, books, art, color, clutter, using every available inch of space, furniture I can move solo, and coffee mugs.
*looks around current living quarters*
*sees most of those things*
*decides to, tomorrow, hang up art that has just been sitting, waiting*
What have I been waiting for?
Tim used to… well, now I think I can see it as wanting to do things together, although he wasn’t good at expressing emotions so it sounded less like he wanted to decide together where things went and more that he wanted to give me permission to put things places. So I stopped asking “can we go ahead and hang this/move this/set this up” because the answer was always, always, not right now, let me think about where, we can talk about it later. There’s only so many times I can hear that before I just stop asking. Like, twice. It’s easier for me to sit and be unhappy with it than it is for me to feel like I’m nagging someone.
But now it’s just me.
Well, there are the dogs, but they don’t care.
And there’s Jeff, and I do ask his opinion if I have fifteen different ways I could do something and I just can’t figure out which way – but that’s not me asking him where can I put something, that’s me talking out loud with a friend trying to say my choices out loud to see which one sounds best when I put a voice to it.
Tim, I’m sorry. I’m sorry that you’re not here to decide things with me. I’m sorry you’re not here to get mad at me just straight up doing things. I’m sorry you’re not here to say “hey, that actually works” when I do something without asking first. I’m sorry we were at a place where I was no longer talking about what I wanted, where I wanted it. I’m sorry that we didn’t get a chance to work through that. I’m sorry that I’m in this weird limbo/purgatory/push-me-pull-you zone of “I can’t make changes because it’ll devalue Tim” vs “I have to make changes because I have to live as me, not we.” It’s all just so hard and rotten and sad but funny and simple, all at the same time. Grief, carrying it, getting through it, living with it… it’s a real kick in the head, y’all.