Like many millennials, I have been tempted by the minimalism trend. I have spent hours planning my ideal mini-house on Tumbleweed Tiny House. Stairs that double as drawers? Pull-out beds? Sign me up.
I have romanticized the backpacking life, considering what possessions would be worth bringing were I to travel Europe. Four pairs of long-sleeved black shirts, and two pairs of blue jeans? Can a woman live on leggings alone? I could put all my books on my phone and save room that way. Can I really replace everything in my bathroom with coconut oil, or is the internet lying to me?
But at the end of the day, even after reading Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I realize that I hate the barrenness of my room. It does not feel as though it is breathable, but as though it is holding its breath. While I know that ebooks are good for the environment, I would so much rather have full bookshelves than these white, barren ones, and damn it if I wouldn’t like ones with beautiful covers. I have no dresser, table, or chairs, and I need more pants. The white walls look cold, and I think the room might feel cold even if the heat worked.
I admit it: I like things. I like having physical copies of my favorite comics and old, yellow-spined books that exhale vanilla when you crack them open. I like growing plants in my windows, and sometimes I can even keep those plants alive. I think of the decorations of my room back home — paintings of rainy London windows, faux impressionist paintings I bought from souvenir shops in Paris and Madrid, antique-style maps. I like the idea of being able to fit my world on my back, but growing up I always tried to fit the world on my walls, and many of my decorations helped inspire my later travels. Our decoration, like any other type of possession, can serve as a drawing board; it tells us where, what, and who we could be.
Experiences may make us happier than things, but how do we keep those memories close to our hearts if not through photos, cards, and souvenirs? Doesn’t a little beauty bring us joy, and change us, and keep us healthy? When I miss home, I miss the carved wood of my record player, and the weight of my guitar.
No one needs a mansion, and though I have dreamed of a two-story Victorian once and again, I think a single room and some common space are more than enough for one busy woman to clean. As for minimalism, I am sure it serves some well, but I would not mind something to dust, now and again.
I cannot afford a dresser yet, but perhaps a blue glass vase filled with orange roses would do, just to start — a chipped one, even, if it shone in the light. A reprint of Van Gogh’s Almond Blossoms or his still life of irises, pictured below, would come cheaply enough. Then lavender, mint, and some bay in the window, once I figure out where to buy them.
Someone once said that “beauty chains me to the earth,” and I agree. I am no minimalist — given a more flexible rent agreement and the requisite artistic ability, I would paint autumn herself on my walls and my doorstep.
The world is beautiful, and I will let it cling to me.