As little girls and young women we adorn ourselves with dangly earrings, paste brooches and rows and rows of beads. We get carried away, accessorize ourselves to the max and keep all our non-precious gems in a jewelry box with a ballerina who spins in celebration whenever we peek inside to see that which she guards over, resplendent in a stiff pink tutu.
Things get lost. The backs of earring slip off and we lose teeny gold studs on our travels: a row of gorgeous glass beads scatter across the dance floor on our eighteenth birthday and we laugh in giddy delight as if this is sheer proof of our joie de vivre. We throw the signet ring our first boyfriend gives us back at him and adorn patchwork bags with a collection of paste brooches and cheeky badges, not caring which cost five pence and which are potentially worth a whole lot more.
Then we grow up. We get careful. We receive gifts proffered in velvet lined boxes and choose jewelry imbued with emotion and glittery meaning. We take care of it: sitting down regularly to polish gold and gently brush away the layer of life that coats anything we wear next to our skin. We take off our engagement rings when we plunge our hands into hot water and cry ourselves to sleep clutching a bracelet someone precious once always wore around her wrist. Suddenly there is money to be spent not on trifles, but on displays of relative wealth and good taste. We find ourselves drawn to the windows of antique jewelers and covet the slender arms full of gold and precious metal bracelets we harbor on our Pinterest boards. And where once we acquired ring after ring, and boxes full of earrings in cheap fashion boutiques, now we wait for special occasions and mark them with the purchase of something that truly speaks to our heart. Just as it is with the jewelry box, so to it is with the house.
When we first set up home we take whatever we can get. Adorning it with meaningless trinkets and operating a more is more policy for fear that this is the only opportunity we will ever have to buy a throw pillow. Our taste is abundant, frothy, unhindered by rules and free-spirited. We make mistakes. we buy things that break, that don’t work and that are in retrospect, ugly. Above all else, we compromise for the sake of filling holes, needs and desires. And time passes and still for a while, we go on acquiring more and more, now, again: noticing how often we enter the house loaded with yet more carrier bags and how rarely we exit it headed for the tip.
And then the time comes when dis-satisfaction floods through our veins, accompanied by a rather startling sense of maturity and awareness of our true taste. Suddenly we see that our mission has to be better, not more. That we do not need to bring anything else into the house, but merely need to repair, care for, or replace that which we already own. Just as we pay heed to the old adage that we should always remove one item from our outfit before we step outside the door, so we begin to see that the house needs undressing too. That if we are to more forward, to offer space for our authentic selves to play, then we need to practice polishing those jewels we choose to treasure forever and making it policy to only bring such treasure, not the usual cheap, gotta have it tat into our homes from this day forward.
It isn’t easy. Good taste requires discipline and the silencing of those voices that whisper NOW! Patience is a means to a beautiful end. A home to glittering precious jewels not an ode to the pound shop. Hours spent reducing all that we own to only that imbued with the same amount of meaning as the rings on the third finger of our left hand. Months spent saving up for a better coffee machine, decent sheets, art from artists, food from artisans, money spent on repairing that which is falling down.
In the jewellery box that is our home, we are the ballerina in charge and we owe it to ourselves to preside over the kind of jewels truly worth having. Go pirouette your way to grown up bliss.