I’ve been juggling a lot since last spring. Some of the juggling has had to do with external, day-to-day stuff out in the physical world, but most of the juggling has been in my mind/heart/spirit/soul. I’m creating what is, at heart, a completely new life—saying goodbye to some things, hello to others, and trying to figure out how to tweak still others and keep them a part of the whole as I go forward.
To be honest, I’m a little worn out from all the changes in my life over the last few years, and frankly, I’d just as soon take a break. My faith and trust muscles have been getting quite the workout. However, a couple of things happened in the last week that have shifted my perspective, albeit in an odd, out-of-left-field kind of way. This post is about one of them.
Last Saturday, I bought a rug for my living room. Mind you, we’re not talking about a major purchase here. I have a small cottage, with a small living room to match, and I’ve never spent more than $100 on a rug. As a lifelong independent/freelance artist, my decorating budget has never been large, which has, shall we say, encouraged me to be creative in more ways than one when it comes to furnishing my home. Luckily, my taste has never run to “new” things, and I love doing DIY projects, so I’ve been quite happy to inherit furniture from family and friends and buy shabby thrift-store-furniture-with-potential, as long as the pieces suited my personal style. I’ve ended up with a home that I like and that visitors regularly call “warm and inviting.”
The rug I bought from Target six or so years ago was a perfectly nice rug when I bought it, and I received a number of compliments about it over the years. However, it’s lived through the usual pet accidents and incidents and a fair amount of general wear and tear during that time, and it’s been looking pretty sad for a while now—rips and tears and places where you can see through to the backing. In the last few months, it started to smell musty and old, like it had been slept on for many years by my dog (which, of course, it had). It was time for a new rug.
Before we get to the new rug, however, I need to back up and tell the story of the amazing Restoration Hardware chenille throw. (I know this post probably sounds like it belongs on a home decorating blog, but bear with me.)
Eight years ago, when I was preparing to move to Richmond, I happened to make one of my (very) rare trips to the local mall. While I was there, I wandered into Restoration Hardware, which was still a fun place to shop back then, before it went all fancy and upscale. At the front of the store were luxuriously thick chenille throws, heavier than any I’d encountered, and perfect for curling up with a book on a chilly afternoon. The problem was that I only liked one of the colors being offered, and it didn’t match anything in my house.
Some of you are probably thinking, “Yeah, so?” But the thing is, for good or ill, I’ve always had a pretty keen color sense. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone to buy thread, forgotten to take a fabric swatch with me, and nevertheless come home with the perfect color thread. (The only times I was off, it was because there was no perfect match.) Years ago, when someone painted the house down the street from me and used a color for the shutters that clashed with the house color, it was like visual fingernails on a blackboard for me. I had to avert my eyes whenever I passed by.
So for me to buy something that doesn’t match…well, it just doesn’t happen. Except this time, it did. My lust for this wonderfully luscious throw overrode my usually exacting color standards. Once I got it home, I found that there was a tiny bit of the throw’s color in some of the living room pillows, but it still wasn’t enough for them to really “go together.” I kept it anyway.
Fast forward a few years. At this point, I’ve bought a charming cottage in Richmond and have painted the entire interior because, well…let’s just say the previous owners’ taste in colors was all over the place (talk about visual fingernails on a blackboard). Much to my surprise, I find that the colors I’ve gravitated towards in this house are—instead of the rose/claret/pinky beiges of my previous house—in the blue/green/warm yellow family, and, lo and behold, the chenille throw coordinates perfectly with the fabrics and wall colors in nearly every room of the house.
Because I painted the house over a two- to three-year period, this realization took a while to hit me. When it did, I thought, Wow. It was almost like some part of me knew. I realize I’m probably assigning much more meaning to a home decorating choice than most people would, but the difference in the color scheme of my Hillsborough house and my Richmond house was so striking and reflected in so many ways the changes in who I’d been in Hillsborough and who I was becoming in Richmond that it was hard for me not to draw a correlation.
Fast forward a few more years. I’ve moved back to North Carolina and have retained the color scheme of my Richmond house. It still suits me, and I think it probably will for the foreseeable future. The living room rug I’d bought in Richmond, a sisal-look rug with a sage green border, was a great component of that color scheme when I bought it and would still work today, but as I mentioned, it was time for the rug to go.
So I went looking for under-$100 rugs (old habits die hard, and I’m still a freelancer). I couldn’t find anything that was similar to what I’d had, so I started entertaining the idea of going in a different direction. One rug at Target repeatedly attracted my attention—a shag rug that was a grey/green/ocean blue. It wasn’t an exact match to the colors in my living room throw pillows, which were lighter, but it would certainly coordinate. A couple of weeks later, the rug went on sale, so I went ahead and bought it. I could always take it back if it didn’t work, right?
I got the rug home, rolled it out, and immediately loved it. It was perfect. It brightened the room in a way that made me realize how sad the old, ratty rug had made the room look. When it was new, the old rug was nice, but this rug…this rug made the room (and me) smile. Moreover, later that night, as I prepared to settle in on the couch and watch a movie, I went to get the famous chenille throw from the foot of my bed, and when I brought it into the living room, I was delighted to see that the new rug was an uncanny, near-perfect match to the throw.
Again, the more logically-minded folks out there are probably thinking, “Yeah, so?” However, I choose to see the chenille throw and the rug as tangible symbols of the journey of transformation that I’ve been on for the past eight years. It’s been a long, hard, exciting, scary, lovely, nail-biting, rewarding, terrifying, surprising journey—one that I began with a huge leap of faith (moving to a town where I knew no one and didn’t have a job), kept slogging my way through with even more leaps of faith, and now continue to feel my way through while reminding myself how far I’ve come, how good things are right now, and how bright things are looking up ahead (at least in the near future that I can see). It’s like the doesn’t-match-anything chenille throw was saying, “Take a chance on me. I represent what you’re moving towards. You can’t see it right now—there are too many bends in the road—but you’ll get there, and I’m part of ‘there’.”
And the new rug? At first I thought of it as a sort of full circle symbol, but now, instead of seeing it as the closing of a chapter, I see it as a token of reassurance for the next part of the journey. I’m heading into (yet again) new territory on my path, uncharted waters for sure, requiring yet another leap (or two) of faith. It seems to me that the new rug is saying, “Look how nicely your life continues to flow and fit together. See how things continue to work out? You’re on the right track. Keep going.”
I know it’s just a rug, but every time I walk into my living room, it makes me think of so much more. We’re all on our own paths, and those paths are rarely straight. We can’t always see what’s up ahead; in fact, it’s rare that we can. But I’ve come to believe that there’s a thread that weaves through our lives and leads us forward into the person we’re supposed to become and the life we’re supposed to live—if we’re brave enough to follow it. The thread might change color and look strange and lead us to places and people and experiences that don’t make sense to us at the time, but I think if we follow the thread and trust that it’s guiding us where we need to go, we’ll find that we end up where we always wanted to be in our heart of hearts. There might even be a cozy chenille throw and a fluffy shag rug waiting for us when we get there.