In the cool and quiet of Sunday morning before my boys are awake, I read the papers on the porch. The dogs sit, tethered, at the top of the steps, their eyes following the paths of the rabbits. If one is particularly audacious, nibbling its breakfast particularly close to the house, they whine quietly at their restraints.
I have a newspaper-reading ritual. I slide both papers from their plastic sleeves and sort the sections from my most favorite to least. I used to feel guilty that I did not read the front page first. The hard stuff. The meaty stuff. The stuff that challenges both my brain and my tolerance for human behavior. But last year as I toured a museum with a friend who is a designer, he snapped a picture of a painting and said, "Do you know who the artist is?"
"No," I replied. "But sometimes I take a take a picture of the label as well and look up the information later on-line."
"That's the difference," he said as he turned to me and smiled. "You're curious about things. I just need the visual."
He's curious about things, too, otherwise I wouldn't like him so well. But the thing that struck me was how comfortable he was with taking what he wanted, in this case inspiration for a painted floor, and not turning it into homework. He was secure in his knowledge of himself and I admired that and wanted to adopt it.
So now, I begin each Sunday with the New York Times "Style" section without guilt. I spend more time here and with "Arts" and "Travel" than I do anything else. And it is only with the slightest bit of embarrassment that I read the "Vows" section. I skim, really, looking for stories of people who are beginning again. I have an outward shell of practicality, but inside I am a gooey mess of a romantic.
This last week there was a story of a New York psychiatrist who fell in love with a man who took her on their first date to a church in the Bronx where he sings gospel music. They began going to church together, eating together, cooking together, traveling together. They were equally delighted and devoted. Still, for more than three years he asked her to marry him and she demurred.
"What is it going to take to not be afraid?" he asked her.
"I have no idea," she replied.
This is the thing, isn't it? The fear of getting hurt is what trips us up. But all we are doing really is controlling who delivers the pain, as we are surely hurting ourselves. We create invisible tethers that keep us from the danger of the street, when usually there's nothing more than rabbits in the yard.
I particularly enjoyed the story of Jason Rand's apartment in Elle Decor, May 2015. His home is a collaboration with designer, Alexandra Loew, who is a lifelong friend. Remarkably personal, I relish that he has bravely surrounded himself with all this good stuff in a moment where "edit" is on the upswing. Living like this, I think, is like wearing a little bit of your soul on the outside of your body.
Image, Elle Decor, May 2015. Photography, Simon Upton; produced by Robert Rufino.
The story in the Times is here. The bride wore raspberry.