Many of my friends will recall when two perfect yellow glass gourd lamps came into my life a couple of years ago. I had seen the first one, marked $29.99 at HomeGoods, knew it was home-lighting perfection, and briefly despaired that there wasn’t another. It would not be an exaggeration to say I heard a chorus of heavenly cherubim when I turned the corner to the next aisle and saw the matching lamp. Okay, at this point my heart is pounding and I’m starting to sweat. These are the lamps of my dreams for a room that’s both my favorite one in the house and a decorating challenge. But times are tough, and I still have to justify spending $60 plus tax on lamps. I go home and mull it over. Mulling is one of my great gifts. I can turn a simple pair of lamps into sleepless nights and existential despair. And finally I resort to the magical-thinking rationale common to all smart shoppers: I decide to go back to the store to see if both lamps are still there; if they are, then obviously Providence intended them to be mine.
So, anyway, the lamps were there and I bought them and they changed my world even more so than the $29.99 Ikea coffee table that I finally settled on for that room after a four-year-long quest. Kismet! And my discount lamps and my cheap coffee table and my clearance-center yellow-and-orange windowpane-plaid chaise that the salesman didn’t believe I really wanted and I lived happily ever after, drinking tea and reading books and gazing at each other in wonder.
And this is what they looked like:
NNNNNNNNNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!! I came home from an errand to find the ivy unpotted, the lamp broken on the floor, and everything covered in dirt. Total devastation. Too upset even to make a sound, I silently repotted the ivy, vacuumed up the glass shards, and ignored the chastened dog, who had, after all, only been living with us for a few months at that point and, worse, had come to us from a tragic past full of unwanted litters and obvious signs of abuse.
I have two children who illustrate Freud’s assertion that all youngsters are savages; two dogs with issues; two cats, one of whom is sickeningly obese and the other of whom has what the feline neurologist thinks is some kind of slow-growing mass in her ear canal, so she periodically falls off things; a husband with the worst karma ever; and I myself am what could politely be called accident-prone. I don’t expect perfection. In fact, I don’t even like it, which is why I have so many old things that wear their histories in defiance of time and space. It used to live there with that person and be used for that purpose, but now it lives here with me and is used for this purpose. If you let me go into your basement, I guarantee I will find at least a few things you think are ugly and useless and I’ll convince you to pass them on to me because I can make them happy again. (Anthropomorphizing objects is another gift. Who else feels sorry for the plate at the bottom of the stack that never gets used?)
So I moved on. I found that if I turned the lamp just so and plumped up the pillow on the loveseat just enough, I could sort of make the lamp’s gaping wound slightly less noticeable. Yes, I would have to warn visitors about a possible laceration hazard, but I could live with that. I could still love my lamp in its imperfect state.
Well, then one day this week the mailman came, as he does every single day, and while you might expect someone to get used to the fact that the mailman comes every single day so that that someone would not feel the need to go batshit nuts every single time the mailman comes, clearly you would be grossly overestimating that someone’s ability to control herself. So even though neither the ivy nor the lamp fell this time, the beautiful, once-in-a-lifetime candid pictures of my kids at the beach in a lovely frame that I got in the clearance bin for $4.99 went sailing off the table onto the marble hearth. It didn’t break, but I did hear the distinct sound of cracking glass come from the lamp as it got shoved out of the way so someone could have her regularly scheduled daily freak out at the mailman.
When I Googled “yellow glass gourd lamp” I was both pleased and crushed to find that my lamps look exactly like one designed by Jonathan Adler that retails for no less than $160. I am high-fiving you in my mind as I write, “Damn, did I score a deal or what?!” On the other hand, if spending $60 on two lamps kept me up at night, spending $160 on one is simply out of the question. People are starving. This is a lamp.
It’s also a lesson in impermanence and intrinsic worth. Do I love my lamps? Oh, yes. Yes, yes, yes. But I would saw off my own legs and eat them for my batshit crazy dogs, my maniacal children, my brain-damaged and fat cats, and my karmicly challenged husband. Shit happens.