Moving on is slow. I am almost certain that some of you are tired of reading about this passage in my life. When is he going to write about something else? How long is he going to remain in this disoriented state of mind? These stories are just too depressing. Where has all the laughter gone?
You would have a legitimate point here. But I don’t have a legitimate answer. For the past month I have thought that I was handling things pretty well. Functioning. Getting stuff done around the house. Back at work full time. But there are days when I am drowning in the melancholy moments of time.
My recent therapy is curtains.
We have been in our house for 22 years now. In that time, we never hung any curtains other than a shower curtain. Naked windows in every room. Considering that we live in the middle of the woods approximately two miles from the closest Dollar General, curtains are not all that necessary. Only in the wintertime can I see the lights from our closest neighbors. We live 1600 feet off the county road. Deer, possums, and armadillos, and an occasional owl are our only peeping toms.
So, as part of my effort to occupy myself with something constructive, I bought curtains for the kitchen. All the women folk reading this have my permission to laugh out loud. A guy’s job is to install curtain rods and handle the ladder. He does not, under any circumstance, buy curtains. A man picking out curtains is like a woman picking out tires for her husband’s truck.
You can imagine. “Honey, would you take my truck down to the tire shop and get a new set of tires for me? I’m not sure what will go with my truck. I think I’ll just stay here and hang these new curtains I bought from JC Penny.”
Tires are personal for a guy in much the same way that curtains are personal for the woman. But I did it anyway.
Beth never bought curtains because she could never decide what would work with the décor. In a woman’s mind, there must be some kind of theme in a room that balances the universe. Chairs. Pillows. Wall paint. Texture. If she couldn’t get it clear in her mind that it was all going to work together, then she became paralyzed on adding the last element of making the room more complete. The wrong curtains could throw everything off. She might have to change all the furniture. Redo the carpet.
She was intimidated by the potential fallout. Not me.
The first thing I did was to go online until I was blind from looking at my phone. I learned that the first thing I needed to do was to choose the length. I know tire sizes. Curtain length had never occurred to me. From there I discovered that there are approximately 642 options in curtain world. When you add length and width and black-out verses shear and linen versus something else, the choices are overwhelming. Grommets verses pockets. Header versus valance. Flat versus French seams. Not all curtains are drapes. Stacking or overlap. Center draw or side draw.
No wonder we never had curtains. I apologize, Dear, for anything I ever said about curtains.
We have always liked the windows in our kitchen. Lots of windows, side-by-side. Wooden blinds that usually stay open to the view of the woods down to the creek behind the house. No reason to cover up the outdoors. So, I’m thinking of using just a valance. Something that “says” kitchen. Something that adds a little touch of color to compliment the wood floor and trim. I’m getting into this. This is almost as much fun as tires.
I hate buying certain kinds of things online. With curtains, I prefer to touch and see the material with my own eyes. I can buy a tool online. I don’t need to touch a socket set. But a guy can screw up with fabric in a heartbeat. And I hate mailing back returns even more.
My oldest daughter says that she bought most of her curtains at Target. Her place looks nice. So, next chance I get I go to an actual store in search of the perfect valance for the kitchen. On that particular day, the curtain aisle looked similar to the toilet paper aisle in April of 2020. The curtain hoarders had cleaned out everything but a handful of 94” black-out curtains that even Max would have turned down.
I was determined not to fail. My quest for style and flair could not be dispelled. So, I went back online. I swiped through page after page of options. I set and reset the filters, trying to narrow down the search. I was becoming an Overstock geek, and it scared me. Wayfair is now sending me dozens of emails every day. If someone looked through my emails, they might think that I was a tree farmer by day and an interior designer by night.
Finally, I went to something familiar. JC Penny. Maybe, if I could find something online, I could go to the store and hold one in my hands. I’m looking through the valances in the virtual kitchen section and there it is. Item # DA1928. A scalloped valance with coffee mugs and coffee words, like “Just Black”, or “Add Sugar”, or French sounding words that I can’t pronounce. I drink coffee in the kitchen. Sometimes, when friends are over, I make a pot in the evening. Just the right touch of color. Nothing gaudy. Not to me, anyway.
Then I see the fine print which reads, “Not in Store”. I have a decision to make. I had no choice. Bravely, I click those famous words that stir the soul of online shoppers across the globe. “Add to Cart”.
What I didn’t expect is how anxious I would be about this new-found experiment of mine. I sent pictures of my purchase to my daughters. My son said, “Yeah, I like that.” But he’s a guy. I needed to know if the girls approved while there was still time to cancel the order. “Do you think Mama would like these?”
I am so far out of my element here, but I’m trying. It was like Christmas when the box came. I ripped into it, and there they were. My very own, very first kitchen valances. I pulled one out of the plastic bag, stepped up in a chair and held it up over the top of the window. I set it carefully where it would stay by itself, steadied on top of the blinds, so I could step back and admire my bold new talent for décor.
I was amazed at how much I liked it. And now, seeing it, I am convinced that Beth might even approve.
Then, it hit me. I need curtain rods. And there are exactly 387 options to choose from.
This job is harder than it looks.