November 05, 2016

Sitting pretty: The definition of beauty

NOV 05, 2016

I hate my couch. Yes, yes, I'm grateful I have one and I'm grateful for the roof over top of it, but if I'm being honest; it's ugly and I want a new one. A fancy one. A beautiful one so that the biggest thing in the room actually coordinates with everything else. It'll say,

"Yes, you're a grown up. You have a nice couch. You can go home now."

Growing up, I had a beautiful couch, beautiful furniture in general. Some of it was inherited but most of it was purchased by my mom who had an eye for pretty things. I also wore very nice clothes while sitting on that jazzy couch from the fancy shop. Oddly, I didn't care about having a nice couch at the time. You'd think it would have been a life long obsession the way I go on about it today. My school friends commented on how nice my "stuff" was but, sitting in it, living with the beautiful stuff, the novelty wore thin like a slip cover; its removal would expose the real story.


In our house, debt was a "hidden in plain sight" symbol of beauty. The only thing that we owned out right was the anxiety that brought us the pretty things before we could actually afford them.

Debt had many names: Holt Renfrew card, Bay card, Visa card, Eaton's card, Birks card, Sears card, and Mastercard. It was room after room of deception from our front door to the expensive soap in the bathroom. The trickiest part about managing the perception of beauty, as a child, was trying to explain why I couldn't afford to do things or go places when my outfit cost more than my friends' television sets.

Don't get me wrong - I wasn't deprived. I was provided for, handsomely, with the best of intentions every day of my life, but every corner of our beautiful apartment was filled with financial anxiety that I think we all could have done without.

Now I realise that some of you reading this are parents, and I put a lot of responsibility on my mom's shoulders when I talk about money. It's a long and complicated relationship that was/is wrapped up in a straight jacket of financial panic. She DID DO the best that she could, and today, so do I.

I could have gone either way: I could have ended up being a spender, too. Fortunately, some part of me knew that paying cash left no burden, quantity was overrated, and quality was king.

In this moment, I HAVE the means to buy a new couch, a beautiful one, with cash or credit. I could do it today - I could stop typing for 7 minutes and tell the mid-century modern collector where to deliver that one of a kind, newly reupholstered Norwegian "sitting machine." It would be beautiful. I'd Tweet out a photo and Toronto Life would say,

"Hey, you have the most amazing couch we've ever seen. We need to feature your great style on page 36 of next month's edition."

My couch and I (because I would buy new clothes to wear for the photo shoot and they would be equally as beautiful and stylish) would be famous for 9 seconds. It would be awesome. And most importantly, I'd have what I bloody well wanted.

*Cue my practical side (of which I have in abundance)
to remind me and my guests:

"Don't touch the couch, it's not paid for."

Guests always feel at ease when you tell them not to sit on the furniture, by the way. We would then all laugh, thinking it was so funny that I finally had this beautiful couch that wasn't, as I'd hoped, making me happy at all.

I would rope it off until I knew that the credit card was at zero, or my emergency fund was full again because...wait for it... it wasn't REALLY mine; it was the credit card's. It was the emergency that would happen the next week that a couch couldn't solve, and I REALLY might have needed the cash that I gave to the dude with the Mid-C-Modern treasure whose email address no longer works. It would be the slip cover of my youth all over again, hiding the ugly truth behind page 36 of a trendy magazine.

Beauty: it's awesome. I highly recommend that you pursue all things beautiful in this world, surround yourself with it, especially if it is an extension of how you share your home with friends and family. But I also recommend that beauty not come before your peace of mind.

If you can't pay it off, then it shouldn't be bought.

*goes to hug ugly old couch*
*calls roofer instead*

Thanks for reading!