This weekend as I was contemplating some home improvement projects, I remembered an incident from when I first moved here. I arrived at my present job with an infant, I was coming up for tenure after only being at my new university for a year, and the tenure bar was higher than at my first university. My husband and I bought a house soon after arriving here, but we didn’t have time to think about the house or garden for the first few years that we lived here.
One of the technicians in my department lived in the neighborhood, and he and his wife (a grad student) frequently went for walks in the evening. Their walking route occasionally went past our house.
When this couple was about to leave the city to go to new jobs and I was saying goodbye to them, the technician informed me that there was something he had wanted to tell me for as long as I'd lived in my house: every time he walked by my house, it really bothered him and his wife that I had shades in my windows rather than curtains. He then proceeded to describe what he thought were the perfect curtains for my windows. Perhaps I could even make the curtains myself!
Aside from the fact that I didn’t want curtains and I don’t know how to sew anything more than the occasional button, at that time of my life, the attractiveness of my windows was quite far down on my list of priorities. Tech Guy didn’t understand that, but I sometimes wonder if he does now that his wife is a professor and they have kids and a house.
At about that same time, one of my senior faculty colleagues described me as a swimming waterfowl. He said that, at the surface, I appeared to be gliding along gracefully and effortlessly, but he knew that I was paddling furiously underwater at top speed. Those who heard this analogy then disagree now about whether he compared me to a swan or a duck, but whichever it was, I took it as a compliment. I certainly didn’t feel like I was doing anything gracefully, but it was nice that someone thought I was.
Ten years later, I am not so duck (or swan)-like, and my garden (if not my house) looks great, but I’m still not going to get (or make) curtains.
8 years ago