Creature Comforts

I can’t pinpoint when creature comforts became important to me:  maybe it was some time after I stopped teaching…or maybe after my divorce.  I was married to a man–no that’s not it; it had nothing to do with him, preceded him by many years.  In fact, that’s probably why he felt safe enough to approach me.  I had a very good job as Senior Writer at the Cdn Dental Association and lived in a decent townhouse in Manor Park in Ottawa which was as ascetic as a monastery:  few pictures, no plants (I was the serial killer of houseplants at that time, wanted in ten states), few knick-knacks, and home only when it was bedtime.  Working was my god and the workplace was heaven.  No need of anything extraneous, superfluous, extravagant:  I had a good car and relatively nice clothes (I wore a size six then so I looked good in pretty much anything).  Creature comforts depend on who you are–but more importantly, where you live on the planet, what you’re used to, what the culture you’re born into thinks is important, and, as a luxury, what you can afford (or for some people, what you think you can afford).  I have a cousin who spends more money on the quality of the sheets on his bed than I do on the mortgage.  He has to, simply has to, sleep in a bed sublimely comfortable and cushy, no expense spared, money no object.  I did once have a down-filled duvet custom-made only to find it excessively heavy and impossible to maneuver easily into place, waking in the wee hours sweating from dragging this thing hither and thither.  It’s long gone now…  I did indulge in purchasing a white brocade wing-back with lion’s feet and kept it for years:  I miss it sometimes.  I hitched my wagon to its starry elegance and pretended that owning it upgraded me somehow, lifted me beyond my pedestrian job and lifestyle to something beyond, something very Brideshead Revisited, Masterpiece Theatre, Dickensian…you get my drift.  The funny thing is that it did…I don’t know why a chair–stylized and traditional yes, but still just an armchair–could do that.  It made me feel as if I ‘had arrived’, had become an adult, had become the owner of myself, of my tastes; a thing exhibiting by its very presence in my home who I was and how well I had done for myself and where I was headed, saving me the trouble of explaining myself to acquaintances or describing my life-choices and ambitions and neuroses and losses and gains and sadnesses and joys.  “This” I could easily have said, pointing to that immaculate wing-back, “this is who I am.”  Oh that it could be that easy and that efficient.  The counterpoint to that is that when I described what kind of house I wanted to my real estate agent, all I said (and I repeated it almost robot-like) was:  light, air and space, light, air and space.  No other physical description was forthcoming–poor fellow.  He got it, though, and found me the home of my dreams…not a particular piece of furniture usurping me in sight. Instead, all three elements (light, air, space) so dominant that as soon as you enter my home, you feel free, unfettered, liberated to be yourself and at home.  Not a wing-back armchair in evidence…Welcome….

Submit a Comment