As I perused the Martha Stewart wedding website, I came across this explanation and I decided I rather liked it as more than just a wedding thing.
Continuity with family and the past is really important to me. I feed my stepsons at a dining table my Grandparents bought together some 35 years ago. It is big and heavy and while I quite like it as a piece of furniture what I love about it is that my brother had his toe operated on by my uncle when he was training to be a chiropodist (I come from a special family), that there are dents from the Christmas I put dinosaur excavation kits at each place setting and we got a bit carried away as we raced each other, that chew marks remind me of when my old dog Kelsie was a puppy and the chip that was the result of me turning the big Disney eyes on the moving men and pleading for them to get it into my new house no matter what.
And old stuff is good. I like furniture that feels sturdy but it’s also good value. I bought our TV cabinet at an antiques/junk shop for £48. It’s made from Oak and was apparently made in the 1930s. It is somewhat Tardis-like and all of my paperwork fits inside it. That and my laptop constitute “my office.” I’ve been shopping a lot as we do up our house and many of my favourite things are the old things I’ve picked up. Today’s buy was an arts and crafts pendant lightshade for £15.
A topic that came up at my Life Coaching Workshop (this will be running again in January at the Gloucester Guildhall and I do private coaching in case you’re interested) is the shapelessness of modern secular life. I think a lot of us feel it and the void left by a society that has outgrown organised religion. There are a host of solutions (hence I have a job!) but I find ensuring I have some roots in the past is helpful. Facing me on the sofa is a statue of a mare and foal. I’m not an ornament fan but it was my dad’s and having it (it recently came out of storage in my brother’s attic) has brought a surprising amount of peace. I grew up on a stud farm (we bred thoroughbreds) and it is a nice reminder of where I came from.
Obviously it’s unhealthy to be too focused on the past and I like the idea that new things suggest optimism and hope. If I may be naff, the new bed I’ve bought for the loft conversion has a strong sense of the future for me. The bed I currently sleep in was cheap and bought because the fiancé was polite enough to leave the marital bed when he left his ex wife. The bed was a short-term necessity. It is ugly and basic (it screams bachelor) and makes me think of the life he had when he bought it. The new bed is my fantasy bed (I love love love brass beds) and where (are your vomit bags ready?) I hope to conceive a child.
I guess this links to the something old. Just as I love the oil painting my parents had in their hallway and which now adorns my living room wall, I hope that I will create memories in some of the new things I’ve bought which will then become the old for the next generation as my Grandparents’ dining table has become for me (obviously not the bed!). I have pictures and sculptures picked up from my travels that I hope that one day (when I’m old and downsizing), my family will want. I love the idea of one of my stepsons having a modern apartment but saying “actually Kay, I always loved the carving of the faces you bought in Cambodia. Can I have it?”
As an academic, my ideas about borrowing often come back to ideas. My PhD had to contain sufficient original material to demonstrate new contribution to my field (in case you’ve ever wondered, that’s what a PhD means in simple terms) but it was also packed with citations from my peers. To express my own thoughts I not only needed the language of those that had come before me but showing I had knowledge of the field was a vital component.
We take, we tweak and we pass on. One of the most significant borrowed ideas I have is my mother’s question; when he’s driving you crazy ask yourself whether it’s a him thing or simply a man thing. This is very good advice for the straight woman and can easily be adapted for men and lesbians. In essence, step back from the situation. See, there I’ve already tweaked it and I’ll be passing it on to my children. As a stepmother of boys, I’ll endeavour to help them understand the craziness of girls and to respond empathically yet without taking shit from them.
I wondered when I started this column whether I’d have anything to say about blue but as the words have flowed I realised the colour blue means a hell of a lot to me. When I was in Mongolia, my guide gave everyone in my group a blue prayer scarf. Traditionally the Mongols tie scarves to make wishes and demonstrate dreams. Across the country you see them tied to trees and rocks. I could never let go of mine and have instead tied it to something where I’ve lived ever since. I’m not sure about love, modesty and fidelity but I’ve been happier since I’ve had it.
When I was in Turkey in September I saw evil eye pendants wherever I went. I loved them and bought not only one for my house but also a key ring for my car keys! They are blue and lovely.
I’ve also been quite naff (I blame being a bride) and bought a sign that says “And they lived happily ever after.” I expected the fiancé to hate it (straight men seem to have an innate aversion to anything you could describe as shabby chic) but he suggested we hang it over the front door. I bought it as a decoration for the wedding but I love the idea. It also looks lovely against the scarf (which we’d previously discussed hanging over the front door) and the pendant.
I’m still not sure what the old, new, borrowed and blue of my wedding day will be but I’ve got the long term stuff in hand and really, marriage is about more than a wedding isn’t it? It’s about the long term bigger picture.