The laundry hamper did me in.
It couldn’t be just any old Rubbermaid basket. Oh no!
I had criteria.
It had to have a lid, handles, fit in my closet, and be aesthetically pleasing.
(Even though it would remain largely out of site, if it was ugly, I would know, and it would haunt me for the rest of my days. I was sure of it).
I didn’t think I was asking for a lot. Yet, none of the usual stores – Canadian Tire, Walmart, HomeSense – had anything that came close.
A woman on the hunt is an incredible show of stamina and endurance.
If you’ve been to a mall with a woman looking for the perfect shoes/ dress/ purse/ piece of furniture/ you-name-it you know we don’t stop until we find what we want, and damn those who come in our path.
In my first week in Charlottetown – after arriving to a completely empty two-bedroom, two-bathroom house – there was a lot that I wanted… and needed.
Priority number one was a bed and blinds for the bathroom.
After that, there were toilet paper holders, coverings for other windows, a chair for the kitchen island, a couch, coffee table, dining room table, desk, bookshelf, shoe racks, pots and frying pans (basically everything you need to furnish an empty house and cook in it) and… a laundry hamper.
In every store, as I looked at every item, I had one single question to answer:
Is this my style?
Because style is important to me. When something is right, you feel it. It’s like coming home.
And when something’s wrong – no matter how much you want to make it your style (boho chic, I’m looking at you) – it just feels awkward, like you’re trying too hard to be something you’re not.
And that first week of shopping in Charlottetown had me a crossroads because the style I was in Toronto is not the style that’s feels like home to me here.
In Toronto, I was mid-century modern, bright lipstick and faux leather pants. Here, I’m feeling more modern farmhouse, ripped blue jeans and letting the greys grow in.
I envision myself hosting song writing sessions and jams in my living room with local musicians, my walls covered with unique pieces of art done by island artists who later became my friends, writing brilliant blogs while staring out at the tree and the barn in the backyard.
This vibe, perhaps not ironically, isn’t exactly what I was feeling schlepping from big box store to big box store in a frantic search for the perfect laundry hamper.
(At Bed Bath and Beyond I thought I’d finally found redemption in a drastically overpriced ivory-colored wicker beauty – at this point I would have paid with my first-born child, I just wanted to get it over with – but it was the last in stock with a big ugly stain on it, so I passed.)
Decision fatigue is real my friends, and it’s exhausting.
Double so, because under the what’s your style question lie two deeper ones:
- Who are you and
- Who do you want to be?
I know the qualities that describe me (creative, brave, well-organized, a good writer). And I know the qualities I want to develop further: grounded, welcoming, open, compassionate, and patient.
But I also know that an identity isn’t formed over night and – despite what all those self-help gurus say – you can’t simply affirm it into being (“I am laid back! I am laid back! I said I am laid back Godddamnit!!!”)
Your identity isn’t an affirmation. Nor is it one singular decision.
It’s not a carpet or curtains or a couch.
It’s something that comes from the culmination of decision and actions over time. And less than one week into life on the island, there simply hasn’t been enough time for me to make all of these choices.
But these thoughts were not what I was thinking as I obsessed over finding the perfect laundry hamper at 8:50 on Friday night.
Instead, my one singular thought was “Where else might have one and how do I get there?
Thank God for closing times. Without them, I might still be out there… possibly at the Costco in Moncton or the Ikea in Halifax by now.
Instead, I went home and got some much-needed rest. And the next day, I stayed home and continued to catch up on that rest.
And on Monday, refreshed, on my way to a furniture store, I passed a discount home décor store that hadn’t shown up on any Google searches and low and behold, there – for $25 – was the exact hamper I’d had in my mind with all of the criteria I’d been seeking.
Since then, I’ve slowly been populating my home with other pieces I feel good about: many of them second hand but in great shape.
A story is coming together here.
I’m not sure what it is, but I do know this, a year from now when I have original art on the wall and conversation pieces on the table, and a record I love playing on the record player, or perhaps some friends over for a jam, this place will reflect exactly who I am on that day.
It will reflect my style.
Until then, it’s a work in progress but you know what?
So am I and that’s okay.
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