Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Revitalized Spaces

There are spaces in my home that bug me every time I walk by them. The thing about those kind of spaces is that they typically only take about 15 minutes to transform. So I generally spend several hours (if you add up all the seconds I spend being bothered by them each day) thinking about corners that don't take very much time to fix. Oy! 

In this case, one area was really bothering me: the bookshelf in our bedroom. The thing about that bookshelf is that I see it for several hours each night as I work on my computer from my bed.

One night I decided to do something about it. I started by pulling off all the books that I thought we could donate. When I was in college, I started saving every book I owned (and even added books to my collection whenever people donated their old, outdated textbooks back to the bookstore). I had this idea that I wanted to have a library room in my house when I grew up.

I carted those books all around with me over the years. When I moved to rural Louisiana to teach with Teach For America, I remember only being able to take what I could fit in my car. There was no room for my boxes of books. So, at the last minute, my mom and I got the idea to start shoving individual books into the crevices of my car.

I moved a lot over the years! From Tampa to rural Louisiana. From rural Louisiana to Houston. And then I took a year off to go on a self-subsidized sabbatical (to folk art school in the mountain of North Carolina, a commune in Virginia, a trip to India, etc.). Then I moved back to Houston. And then to Denver. And then back to Houston. And then finally to Austin (to two different houses).

At some point, I started feeling like keeping my books was about impressing other people instead of fulfilling some real desire in myself. "Look at how cultured I am!" (even though I hadn't read all the books I was actually keeping on my shelves). I decided to donate books that I really wasn't going to return to.

But even as I type this, I do feel some sadness about giving away all my books. It would have been awesome for my sons to see all the books that helped shape who I am as a person.

But as I write that, it feels like a romantic and sentimental notion that may be somewhat true, but the possibility of my boys picking up a book that was fundamental to my life is way overshadowed by the burden of making space for so many books.

So anyway, we pared down our books again. Then I went about a trial-and-error process of arranging books and objects in different ways. These shelves are still not where I want them to be (I feel like the colors of the objects clash too much), but it's a definite step forward from the previous mess (sorry I don't have a "before" photo!). 

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1 comment:

Katie Mae said...

I feel you with the book dilemma. I also wanted a library room and saved a lot of books. I genuinely (but mistakenly) thought I would read them all again. Now I have space for a library, but it seems silly to hang onto books that aren't meaningful or interesting to me, so I'm working on paring them down to one shelf. The big challenge is the binders of school notes, readings, and papers I've been keeping since middle school - looks like you have some of those too! It's hard to admit that I ha e no use for my 11th grade chemistry notes and I can probably recycle the whole thing without even looking at it.

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