Friday, January 23, 2015

The Beauty In The Before

Before the before I'm talking about today, we were just living in our apartment. When we moved in, everything was freshly painted and new and nice. Almost all of the apartment was working for us. Sure, some of it was a bit mismatched. It wasn't glamorous. But it was a cozy, functional place to raise our children and a sweet place to come home to.

Over time, some parts of the apartment stopped working as well. We cobbled things together until more of it wasn't working. Then we started the renovation.

One day recently, I was having a private conversation with a friend using Facebook Message. I don’t remember what started it. We were having a nice dialogue and then the subject turned toward the renovation.

The friend wanted to know why I wasn’t posting any pictures of our apartment on Facebook. This is a reasonable question. I like to post things on Facebook.

My answer at the time was because the apartment isn’t finished yet.

Almost immediately, I realized both the error and irony of my answer. The error and irony comes from two places.

All though this renovation process, I’ve been focusing on the word process. The apartment will never be finished, finished. Even after the shelves are delivered, the furniture in place, the paint job done and the rug laid, there will still be more things to do.

We will need to possibly get more shelves made once we’ve unpacked. Well have to find a spot for my new printer. There may be some trips to the Container Store to maximize the insides of our closets.

There is bedding and throw pillows and area rugs. That is what I’m calling the fun part.

So if I’m waiting for the apartment to be finished before posting pictures that is absolutely ridiculous. I’m taking it back. Forget I said anything.

I then considered the concept of the before picture. Initially, this idea was worrisome. Who wants to post pictures of piles of stuff, half packed boxes, dusty corners and walls in extreme need of a paint job?

Then I realized that I am in fact, the person who should do this.

I am a person who finds beauty in things like trash, dead plants, weeds and city streets.  Once I remembered that, I looked at my apartment with new eyes.

I started taking some pictures. Not your classic before and after views that one sees on HGTV. I’m sure I’ll take those too. Just not now.

The pictures I took were of things that are suddenly ephemeral. They’re about to be painted over, taken down, re-purposed, re-organized, given away. They’re about to be swept up, boxed up, cleaned, thrown out, replaced or refinished.

I am welcoming in the new and saying goodbye to the old. Saying goodbye isn’t easy. These photographs are my way of saying see you later. I won’t forget about the scratches, the corner, the outgrown toy, the shelf brackets or the milk crates. The truth is that I don’t forget much of anything.

Here is my version of the before.

We are saving all of our Fresh Direct delivery boxes for packing. There are a pile of them wedged between the treadmill and some CDs.

There will be new shelves to hold this pile of books Jeremy has earmarked to read. Our coasters have seen better days. The new ones Jeremy got me for Christmas will soon be gracing our tables.
Jeremy has always loved sharing music. Back in the day, he loved making mixtapes. The old-school nature of them bugged me for a while, but I’ve learned to love them again. The sunlight has faded the labels, but they are still readable.
We’ve outgrown these bracketed shelves and have packed up what used to be there. They look spare and pretty in the late afternoon light. Some pretty peeling paint will soon be covered in a color called Horizon. Hannah’s art, rolled up and ready for TLC treatment.
Hannah got a jewelry box kit one birthday. It sits atop a list of Noah’s and a scratched filing cabinet that will live inside a closet. This copy paper catching the light will have a proper home soon.
I used this pretty notebook for ideas back in my commercial still life photography days. I took a photograph of it before pitching it. This was my kitchen table throughout my childhood. My parents were nice enough to give it to us after they remodeled their kitchen. We are having it refinished, but the scratches are so interesting I wanted to record them.

Jeremy truly treasures his music and that has blessed our family. These piles are awaiting alphabetization and storage. Soon they will have a lovely place to call home.

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