On Sunday, the last day of our Winter Break, we decided to take the kids to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts to see the Forbidden City Exhibit before it leaves town. Plus, it makes us look like good parents if the last memory our children have to share on their first day back at school is one of an enriching cultural experience and not the day that I let them wear their pajamas all day and didn’t make them brush their teeth.
The exhibit was amazing to say the least. The detail and precision in the ink and color drawings that have survived the last several centuries is beyond my comprehension. Beautiful ceremonial clothing was on display next to artwork in which the royalty was wearing each piece. The rest for the artists’ paint brushes was a beautiful sculpture; not unlike the plastic stadium cup left over from a Virginia Tech game that I use for paint brushes when I’m feeling creative. Every detail of their lives included beauty, luxury and grandeur. Which brings me to my throw pillows.
My Beloved loves simplicity. We have had an ongoing argument about the ornamentation on what we call our common marital bed. It’s our room; but let’s face it, I’m the one decorating it. He hates throw pillows. In fact, he hates any pillow other than the two that he can lay his head on to sleep. No shams, no decorative king size pillows, no round bolsters. Just plain pillows, flat as I can buy them and cheap as they come. His argument is, plain and simple: what’s the point? My rebuttal is: because it’s pretty.
We are not silk and satin people. There are no tassels, no bejeweling, no sequins, no feathers. It is not a bordello nor could it pass as a cheap hotel or a lover’s getaway. However, after watching Downton Abbey, I’ve come to realize that our bed looks more like the servants quarters; after viewing the Forbidden City exhibit I’ve realized that we are in fact peasants with our plain white sheets and flax colored quilt.
Why does it matter? In the long run, it doesn’t. It’s a pillow, it’s a decoration, it’s fluff covered in fabric. However, looking at it through the eyes of history, it seems to reflect more than that. A beautiful home reflects an appreciation for not only art, but for hard work and craftsmanship. It represents the fact that beauty in our surroundings brings joy and happiness and shows what is important to us as a society. Life is hard; beauty makes it easier to endure those hardships at times.
Do I need a throw pillow to have a happy marriage? No. I’ve had a happy marriage for almost 12 years while sleeping in a bed that is used on the set of “Orange is The New Black”. That being said, when I went on a bit of a spree during the last week of break and bought a new comforter and (gasp) three throw pillows (and grasp your heart) two shams, I braced myself for an argument. In fact, I headed it off before it started. He walked in the door and I told him that I understood his feelings on unnecessary bedroom pillows; however his bed is currently covered in them and he was not to say a word. Not one single word. His inner man could scream in protest, but my inner wife needed something to sleep on that didn’t resemble the standardized bedding in hospitals across the country. To appease my need for a beautiful space he could suck it up and throw them on the floor on my side of the bed, but he was never to say a word about it. Which is exactly what he’s done for the last week. He doesn’t even look my way as he tosses the pillow sham and accompanying throw pillows over my head enthusiastically to the floor. The smug smile on his face tells me that he loves me enough to endure it, no matter the frivolity that he’s deemed unnecessary. He’s happy because he thinks that by ignoring his own irritation it’s making me happy; I’m happy because I got my throw pillows. When I make my bed in the morning, its for no other reason than to see something beautiful before I leave to go to work and to know that at the end of the day I get to enjoy it again. He’s happy because he has an excuse to throw things in my direction every night without getting yelled at.