Susanna Salk



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Friday, February 22nd, 2008

The word “change” is echoing an awful lot across our landscapes these days. There is the demand for the political: we read it in our newspaper headlines and hear it feverently debated on television and perhaps we even chant it at rallies.
Others often demand it of us personally: scan the New York Times bestseller list and dozens of titles call out to us to better ourselves: “You! Only Better. Younger. Sexier. Richer.” Sometimes we feel like waving the banner at the front of the Change Parade and sometimes all we can muster is to shuffle somewhere towards the back and hope no one notices us.
Amidst change we want, change we can’t have and change we need, there is always the comfort of the constant: what we have created inside our homes. We can count on the faithful grouping of furniture in our living room and the visual landscape of collectibles across our shelves that are as dependable as an old friend’s birthday card. We arranged it and it will all stay, until we say so. And often we never say so, because if it makes us feel good, it it makes us feel steady in the ever-bobbing ocean of change, than why on earth would we tamper with it?
Because of my job, where I am constantly styling, fussing and tweaking, I tend to do the same at home. I like there to always be an artful slant to all my rooms: it makes me feel cheerful, safe and loved.
So when my husband first gently pointed out that perhaps, in certain places, I was maybe….over-arranging a little…well you can imagine.
I close my eyes and half listened, clinging defensively to my domestic life raft: how could we not love what I had done? Wasn’t it pretty?!
Yes he said. It was all very pretty. But where could one put down a mug of tea? Amidst my army of frames and books and precious little groupings of little this and thats, there was very little elbow room. Not even thumb room.
Now I am not a pack rat. Nor am I believer in total Zen. Sometimes more is more, especially when it comes to fresh flowers coats of white paint.
But after I told him not to quit his day job, (Emergency Medicine), I walked (OK: stormed), around the house eying all my arrangements and realized some were as old as ten years. I had created them to be admired but I no longer really even saw them. They were just part of my peripheral vision. And Eric’s words kept echoing: “even if we just got rid of one less thing…”
So I took out one thing. Then another. After awhile, the act of removal was almost as satisfying as the initial creation. Sometimes my work left an almost-empty shelf. And I’m proud to say I left it like that.
And of course you know already that I didn’t miss any of what I took away. Even if they were replaced, I don’t feel unfaithful. Just a little reborn.
And at the end of the day, wasn’t I lucky he didn’t want room for a La-Z-Boy?