Fads come and go.
But the basics never change.
And there is a very real reason for it.
Let’s take a look at platform sneakers for one, shall we? Sneakers, by design, are made to help you run. Really fast. Adding three inches to your overall height by appearing to have a pair of bricks strapped to your shoes is not only unattractive, but defeats to whole purpose of the sneaker in the first place; to get somewhere really fast. It’s not to look like Gulliver trying to walk among the Lilliputians.
Next, foam…as in food. To me, this appears as an oxymoron. And when you serve food foam as an actual course in a $300 seven course meal, it’s not only an oxymoron but a rip off. And I don’t care if it has a fancy name like molecular gastronomy. Why eat an oyster in foam form, when you can experience eating the actual real thing, which when properly digested, becomes foam all on its own. And it doesn’t cost you 42 and change for a half ounce served on a crostini with a smidge of foie gras and a sprig of fresh grass from a cow pasture in Belgium.
But I know, I know. Sometimes you throw something crazy out there and it sticks . . . like spray-able butter (Pam). Only this time, I am afraid, a fad may become the new norm in the form of the open-living floor plan.
For me, the open-living floor plan is simply a plan for no escape.
No escape from the television, toaster oven, telephone, tattle-telling and tantrums. There is nowhere to hide, no doors to slam like the good ole days; hinges and handles rattling in the wake of the rightly righteous and the resolute.
Privacy, which the open-floor plan screams, is highly over-rated, a thing of the past, been there done that. Communal living is where it’s at; every single person should, no needs to be, smack dab, right on top of each other at all times; eating, breathing and living.
And don’t even get me started on the kitchen, the hearth of the home, the bright, shiny star of the open-plan’s vast galaxy of airy wideness.
I don’t know about y’all, but I live in my kitchen. Do I do so willingly? Heck no, but how else does one feed a family a four every day, breakfast, lunch and supper, without the salary of Zuckerberg, the staff of the White House and the television expense account of Anthony Bourdain.
This is why when I open my front door, yes read this again people, FRONT DOOR, I do not want the first thing anyone sees to be my kitchen. I don’t want to see it either and I live here. Why?
Well, Pat Conroy wrote in his memoir The Water is Wide about a boat ride to Yamacraw as a “time when I became aware of the tides ebbing and flowing in accordance of the transcendental clockwork of the universe.”
What a beautiful, expression to be sure.
It’s only that it seems wherever I navigate my cynical self, no matter to the powder room, bedroom, dining room, den or car, I must traverse the rough, salty and grimed nature of the pulsating center of my universe; the kitchen; like clockwork. The place where pots, pans, dirty dishes and extra larger hefties ebb and flow all dang day . . . and way into the ever loving night; not to mention fights, sobbing fits and melt downs guided by hazy moonlight and misunderstandings, hurt feelings and growing pangs twisted tight like dried out seaweed.
My failure to clean up all the messes is front and center.
They are there for me to see, 10 feet high and 700 square feet all around. Every day.
So why do I want a door there? To hide from sight of the daily grind, the core grit of the hard, raw parts of holding a family stitched together by shaky seams and a whole lot of pie in the sky dreamers of all dreamers’ dreams. Because sometimes I want to close it, just to breathe.
I don’t know if y’all know this, but The Prince of Tides is one of the top 5 novels that influenced me in every way that makes me me. It’s also the only novel in my top 5 written by a man. There are so many quotes that I scribbled down, taped up, studied and learned from:
“The quicksilver moments of my childhood I cannot remember entirely. Irresistible and emblematic, I can recall them only in fragments and shivers of the heart.’
“In families, there are no crimes beyond forgiveness.”
And of course, one of the best two sentences ever written at the beginning of a novel, “My wound is geography. It is also my anchorage, my port of call.”
Only, it was recently that I stumbled upon another Pat Conroy quote, and I now feel more in love with the man than I already was:
“I told my kids when they were little, ‘Look, kids, your mother and I are screwing up somehow. We don’t understand how, or we wouldn’t do it. But we’re parents. So somehow we are damaging you, and I want you to know that early.’”
Maybe it’s not all about existential moments on boat rides among the manatees. Maybe it’s leaving the day to day clutter, the never ending messes and the fights and the struggles alone and closing the front door behind you for a moment.
It is about forgiveness, especially, finding a way to forgive the one who is the hardest to forgive in the first place: you.
And that, like the late, great Pat Conroy, is not a fad but an original that will never change.