For A.T and J.M. Much love.
Fuck, I love bone china.
I recently acquired a teetering stack of mismatched tea plates from my local op-shop. Ten plates, one dollar each and individually wrapped in brown paper.
Yellowing at the edges where gold leaf slicked around, coloured a broadening milky paste across their centre, they were delightfully perfect in my gaze. They were pricked with riots of cornflowers and switches of grass, heavy headed pink buds leaning sweetly and nervously out of corners. Regency, Delphine, Royal Vale, Hammersley, Wedgewood and Windsor.
Mine. Mine mine mine.
The best part wasn’t buying the suckers, though that was part of the draw. The best part was getting them home. With excited, lamb-shaky hands, I pulled the paper away and dipped them slowly into a hot sink of suds. I watched the water suck and pucker and pull, and I washed them gently with a wide lemon coloured cloth. Everything in my house was still and hushed while I did this, and I did it with care.
Then I dried them. Put them away. Stood back and looked at them in the cupboard a little while.
It was like quiet worship – an inexpensive, humble connection with my sense of home. Such experiences border on the holy for me; some people have religion, and I have my nest, for which I flit to and fro collecting twigs.
I didn’t have a home of my own for most of last year. I lived in share-houses, which for many do feel like home (a truth I would never begrudge). But the tender thrill of acquiring and arranging objects in a space mostly you pass through, daily, is demarcated in my heart as that which is most home-like. Mostly I eat and laugh and cry and orgasm and read and curl and bathe and kitty-play and churlishly sulk here.
For me, curating my home has become an act of wilful feminism. The first home to which I attached was defined by the principles to which I attached it. I married very young, a maid with hope in her heart and daisies pinned up in her hair. I was cheeky and rambunctious as I am currently, though that was a foetal aspect of my now fully-fledged knowledge of who I am and may hope to be. Then, I wanted that white picket fence – I wanted every fucking post and I threw my heart and body and money and time at it without regard for where the divisions of all that lay, and what the cost of submerging my self would be. I took part in rites I had no hope of truly understanding, allowed ancient structures to become the frame for a picture I didn’t fit in. And from this place I built a home.
It was a good home, the one that I built. I did it sincerely. I believed in it. But anything built from a place of hopeful-aim and not arrived-at identity is unlikely to stand. And it did not, for me.
Attached too much to someone else, that house was.
But finally, finally, I have my own house and I live so well in it. I share it with my partner, but in a more radical way than I could have ever imagined in the past. We have separate rooms, and we kept receipts of all the furnishings and objects we acquired so in the likely event that we one day part ways – for few relationships last our lives long – I’ll buy out his share. Open discussion had led to autonomy. My cats live with us, but they’re my cats. Rather than feeling a sense of mercenary failure to merge, I feel joy at my newfound ability to stand unstintingly in the light of equality. Before, I would have felt deeply ashamed of that.
And every day now, I turn the key in the lock of place where I lay down and know myself. The twigs I bring here are ones I have chosen, for me, for my place, and I make the bounds of all that is around me come to life. My feathers rustle and fluff with smug pleasure.
I am not the lovely, innocent child in a bride’s dress anymore. But I am a woman with teapots and cats and a sea-foam blue tablecloth. Maturity in my domestic shell is not a cheat, nor is it a sadness; it is something I rise and shine to daily, enjoying where my step hits the cool tile of my bathroom, my nakedness surrounded by walls I pay for, I afford. This woman is a woman with plans, and each lamp and each mopped floor is a trembling ripple of joy on the new skin of her fully possessed life.
Oh, how I prefer her.