For the first time, in a very long time, I felt embarrassed last night as my husband and I entertained a few friends in our home. Our living room consists of a hodge-podge of mismatched furniture. Our TV stand, one of those old heavy wooden ones, was a hand-me-down from my in-laws. Our large and lumpy plaid sofa was purchased eight years ago for my husband’s first apartment. The green, red, and yellow stripes clash with the soft blue paint on our walls. The sides of the couch have been shredded by the claws of our two cats and we keep sticky tape on the edges to prevent further tears. The coffee table in front of the couch was a hand-me-down from my husband’s cousin and the top of the table is full of large marks and scratches. The chairs in our living room are a mismatch of IKEA furniture and almost every piece of upholstered material is covered in cat hair despite the fact that I am constantly vacuuming.
Lots of people have visited our house in the last seven years and strangely enough this is the first time I’ve been embarrassed by the disarray of furniture in our living room. Up until now most of our friends have been in similar housing situations. Less than ten years out of college they too have a hodge-podge of hand-me-downs scattered across their bare apartments. But last night as our friends entered the living room I felt a small surge of embarrassment swelling inside of me. Compared to the immaculate homes of our friends, our house suddenly felt like a run down shack.
I was a bit surprised by this feeling, but oddly enough, I was even more surprised that this initial sense of embarrassment quickly converted into a strange sense of pride. For the most part, I like to think that my husband and I spend our money exactly the way we want to. We carefully consider and discuss the major purchases in our lives and more often than not we decide to hold off spending on things that just aren’t urgent. There is no need to rush to buy new furniture when the IKEA furniture works perfectly well for our two spoiled cats. There is no need to buy a new television, when in reality we hardly ever watch TV.
Before heading to bed I thought long and hard about the disarray of our living room in the context of the larger vision of our lives. Lately, my husband has been trying his hand as a semi-professional photographer and we’ve spent a large sum of money on new cameras and photo equipment. I’d much rather invest the money in his dreams then in furniture that fills our living room. In all due honesty, there are a million ways I’d rather invest the money. I want to retire early, pay off our homes by age 40, pursue my passions and enjoy every day with my husband.
In that moment, just before falling sleep, I found myself smiling at all that I have in my life. In all the joys in my life. The state of my living room furniture, is in fact, one of the last thoughts on my mind.