In true DIY fashion, for the past few weeks my husband has been doing a refresh of our kitchen. He scraped and repainted the popcorn ceiling (not a project for the faint of heart – messy and no fun for him, and even with tarps used, it still took me two days to clean the fine white powder off every surface in the house), and he has painted the walls and all of the trim. Nearly done, and it looks great.
This morning as I was emptying and rinsing the old ugly plastic bowl for recyclables that lives on my counter, I suddenly realized: hey, I could be wild and crazy and get something else that actually matches the kitchen and looks nice on the counter! More than 10 years ago at least, I tossed that green plastic container on the counter to collect recyclables that could then be taken out to the garage and sorted on a daily basis. It was a bowl I happened to have on hand at the time, was durable and cleanable, so voila! There it has lived on the counter ever since. Something we look at every day, yet it had become invisible. It in no way matches my sunny yellow-blue-and-white kitchen. It is in no way attractive. I could have replaced it long ago, yet it apparently took a major surrounding beautification project for me to even notice it.
So this has gotten me thinking about what other things in our lives have become virtually invisible yet are in front of us every day, and could really use some attention. Maybe it is a burned out light bulb in the bathroom and you’ve gotten used to the slightly dim cast. Or it could be a pair of pants with a torn hem, that have been pushed to the back of the closet. Or my favorite, that invisible jar of pickles, salsa or dressing in the fridge that expired 6 months ago.
Even my gym bag is a good example. It actually isn’t a gym bag. It is a ratty old fabric tote bag that about 100 years ago I got as a gift-with-purchase and because it was there, I started using it for carrying around my workout clothes. I think about replacing it every time I pick it up. Then promptly forget about it as soon as it once again becomes invisible in the corner of the bedroom between uses. No one else would ever give a damn what I carry my workout stuff in, but I hate that bag. It is ugly and too small. And yet – I continue to use it because I apparently can’t be bothered to shop for a real bag. Or, more likely, it disappears from my view and my thoughts.
I have a strip of “garden” between my front porch and the driveway. It is an odd area that gets little sun, and lots of snow pile abuse. Ages ago, I had the brilliant idea to plant ivy and pachysandra, thinking it would become a lovely green lush ground cover. Each year, I have believed “it will fill in more next year.” 15 years later, it is still scraggly. And, you guessed it, it has become visibly invisible. I only notice it when the ivy is trying to creep up the wall of the house or out into the driveway, and will give it a hair cut. Otherwise, it is a largely ignored space. My stepson, who does landscaping part-time, gently mentioned to me recently that the area could probably look better with something else in there. Clearly it is quite visible to him. Around the corner from my scraggly ivy patch was an equally scruffy Speria bush that I asked him to help me remove. I came home from work one day to see the bush gone, leaving a lovely clear ready-to-be-beautified patch of dirt. I was shocked how good the empty space looked. Suddenly that invisible ivy patch is as noticeable to me as a neon sign. It’s gotta go. I’m planning to tackle it this weekend, and am now researching better shade-loving perennial options that will be lovely and visible.
Understandably, many of our invisibles stop being noticed simply because they would require time, energy and money to change, all three of which are in short supply for any R.W. Visibly invisible items are some of the lowest on our priority lists. We have either chosen to ignore them, or are somehow intimidated by them (like my ivy weed patch), or are just so busy taking care of everything else, we just learn to live with things like ugly counter buckets. I do want to point out, however, that the invisibles in a woman’s life are different then in a man’s life. Nearly anything and everything that leaves a man’s hand can, and does, become invisible. Dirty socks on the floor, junk mail on the table, tools left on the counter, dishes in the sink – all invisible to the male eye. Perhaps we RW’s are so busy seeing and taking care of their invisibles that we just gloss over our own.
Until, finally, for some reason something has become so noticeable we decide to take action, and it can be pretty darn exciting. I’m giddy thinking about a trip to Home Goods for a new recyclables bin.