In the summer of 2002 when I finally had my first all-to-myself-with-no-roommates apartment, I delighted in unpacking the needlepoint and dolling it up, and what a year before had arrived pine green and maroon with an unfinished wooden frame became pink and aqua to match the little dining nook in my new place.
"Home Sweet Apartment" behind me as I would sit in the corner seat under it there and work on school work for my second Masters program. "Home Sweet Apartment" beside my newly-ex-boyfriend and I as we sat across from each other at this vintage tablecloth-clad table eating bowls of my homemade soup and awkwardly figuring out our post-breakup friendship. "Home Sweet Apartment" above me as I bawled my heart out in this pink-dotted chair the following New Year's night after realizing we weren't ready to be "just friends" just yet and that we might never be able to in this lifetime. The sampler over me and my mom when she showed up on a whim with two chocolate muffins from the bakery and listened as I made us tea and told her all about it. The sampler over a whole bunch of us when I hosted both my first family dinner and first birthday party and relearned that as long as I had love to give--and gave it--I wasn't down for the count. Before I moved out of this first "all mine" apartment, a former professor joined me for cookies and lemonade under the needlepoint and commented that I was good at making people feel welcome. "Hospitality is your thing, isn't it," he thoughtfully noted. And that's when "Home Sweet Apartment" really clicked for me: I really had created a home here, not just filled and decorated a rented space.
The pink and aqua needlepoint became a more subdued and not-very-Val-like red and yellow in 2007, so as not to overwhelm Mike with my pink-and-rainbow-loving tendencies. Our studio apartment was so tiny, it was hard to do any real decorating in it at all, so the yellow and red actually didn't bother me too much. When you can roll out of bed in your home-sweet-apartment and land on the kitchen floor, or open the bathroom door while sitting at the dinner table, the color combination of a sampler's matte and frame isn't your biggest homemaking concern. Besides, the sweet sampler watched over me and Mike, this time hanging from the apartment's built-in mantel, during all our goings-on for four years the same as it had when it had been pink and aqua for me before. Home was still love-filled and our favorite place. Be it ever so humble, you know.
Today it became pink again, though, and I don't see it changing after this. It finally looks just right to me. I covered the yellow matte with the dotted pink upholstery fabric that I had used to cover the captain chairs in my little circa-2002 pink and aqua corner. I repainted the red frame black. And I removed the glass-front since I don't trust this apartment's wall to hold its weight. While I continue painting the mantel and fixing up the wall around it, at least this much is done. That I figured out a way to incorporate the old chair fabric makes me especially happy.
"Lighten up, Val--It's a sampler," I know, but when I look at it, I remember the journey it's accompanied me on and think of it as a witness to the past twelve years. When Mike and I eventually move on from renting, I will pass it on to its next owners with a prayer for their own resilience and contented refuge in home.
Sweet, indeed. ♥