I started writing this when I moved onto Clay Avenue; when I was newly infatuated with the beauty of a space I got to design. I was enamored with it as if the beauty I worked to manifest in my surroundings would also reflect the condition of my heart. I started writing this to express how beauty can refresh us, fuel us. Which is partly true. But there’s something to be said for how beauty collaborates with the rawness of our reality.
I get consumed with an unrealistic ideal of who I’m becoming. A side effect of an ambitious personality, to be sure, but turns away from my dissatisfaction or shame and sets focus to the prettier things -- the admirable and showcase-able and the flowers that I can point to and say, “growth!” Such little celebrations are a joy and a necessity, but particularly when that exclamation tells a fraction of the story, it becomes almost self-deceiving.
Building a home (or an apartment) constructs the same juxtaposed world. My tiny place embodies all I hope to reflect to the world -- beauty, comfort, peace, rest -- but it also happens to house all of the ugliest things about me. Breakdowns, depressive tendencies, laziness, frustration, gossip, and tears and tears. It all resides in the home I put on display, the same space I invite people into in hopes they will find safety, too. But with all of my supportive efforts and fresh baked cookies and floral wallpaper, at the end of the day it is still where my truest self lives, and she isn’t always the glowing, hip, joy and peace-filled human I hope to be.
But walking into the door of a well-curated home feels like the embrace of a family -- a safe and loving place that gives permission to all that you are. We become removed from all we have built ourselves to be when we are in familiar arms. Instead we are all our pieces existing at the same time; a jagged, beautiful puzzle fully formed. We are the imaginative toddler running down a hill, or a child fighting with a sibling, a teenager crying the ugliest tears over the pettiest thing, or the semi-adult acting like we have it more together than we do, because we wouldn’t know how to handle it otherwise. It’s often the spaces and humans that have watched our brokenness unfold that love us best. There is a safety in a home of whatever form; it captures our triumphs and failures, beauty and shame simultaneously. Like guitar strings need tension to make music, our lives need challenge to be fruitful. Our hearts and our homes extend beyond a staged catalog.
So it’s too simple to show off pretty pictures and the joy Clay Avenue has brought me without also saying that it’s the home I’ve made that has given room for a kind of healing that is messier and grander than I expected. I am still on a journey, to see my ugly close-up but feel the freedom to run into the Father’s arms, all at the same time.