Thursday, June 12, 2014

Tiptoeing back to New Jersey

The people around us make overcoming challenge a bit easier
Linda taught me how to create beautiful vignettes
throughout my home
I hate New Jersey. It's tainted by insomnia, financial insecurity, strained family relations, legal battles, cancer scares, pediatric health issues, and surgery.

Living there wasn't fun, and I've made a deliberate choice not to revisit those years because, really, what's the point of remembering such a bleak time?

But last week I reached back into my soiled and messy past, and to my surprise it wasn't painful. Because, for the first time, I remembered the good. I remembered the people who befriended and supported me while living there, and I realized I missed those people.

As I unpacked my moving boxes last week memories of Linda, my interior designer, eased into consciousness. Linda was impeccably beautiful, both inside and out.  A petite woman with perpetually, bright red lips and a closet any New Yorker would love to raid, Linda had a modern, edgy design aesthetic that somehow made perfect sense when applied to a pre-World War II home. 

I'd sought Linda's help in a panic, as my furniture, which looked fabulous in my Georgian Colonial, looked miserably misplaced in my new, 1920's Tudor. 

Linda heeded my call, and within hours she transformed my living room from mismatched to bold and eclectic. While insisting that my screaming children were not a bother at all, she taught me how to create a sort of amuse-bouche in my rooms, an unexpected and delicious detail that draws people into the space. She shared design tricks and ideas. She dropped off samples, ordered paints, and refrained from laughing at my countless design mistakes, like ordering chandeliers that were 10 times too big for my space. 

Several years later, when we were forced to quickly sell the same home, Linda transformed it again, creating a space that told a story of perfect family living, without the actual mess of children, stinky diapers, food stained walls, and toys with no place to live. (You really have to be good to do that!)

These memories filled me with gratitude, for having the opportunity to both meet and work with Linda. I picked up the phone and called her, to tell her how much I loved her, how much I appreciated her, how much I missed her, how often I still think of her.

Linda called me back several hours later. "You made my day," she gushed across the line. "I'm so glad you think of me when you look at the pieces I helped you select. I hope all of my clients do."

I don't think the pre-recession version of me would have made that call. She certainly would have thought about it, but she probably wouldn't have actually followed through. 

But today I am softer and more aware. I'm more deliberate in celebrating the mundane and sharing my gratitude with others. Because I've learned there are no guarantees. Life will throw hurdles. What makes overcoming those challenges a little bit easier is the people around us and the way we choose to interact with them. This fills me with a need to reach out. To let people know how they've touched me.

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