Why do we like the things we like?

It was a lazy afternoon around my house today and I enjoyed, greatly, a long and somewhat silly Facebook chat with my best girlfriends, the ones I call sisters (and mean it–they ARE all three sisters and I am now an honorary one, which pleases me no end.) One of them posted some beautifully artful measuring cups (of all things, right?) from a store that I thought only sold clothing. I had heard that name in regards to clothing, but I am not, in any way, the kind of person who goes shopping just for fun. I mean, you will never hear me say “Let’s go to the mall!”

Now, that’s not to say I won’t shop. I do. I actually like grocery shopping, especially when I am not hurried. And I dearly love browsing in bookstores or thrift shops. But I’m much more likely to get excited about vintage kitchen ware and table linens than in any kind of current trend in clothing ( or shoes…..let’s  just say that if I could go barefoot all my days, I would.)

So I was thinking about the things I like. And I have definitely strong opinions about them. I prefer my great-grandmother’s tin measuring cups, or my grandma’s glass ones, to anything plastic. I think that must be due to their heritage, because I do admit these cups we were all so giddy about today were not your ordinary measuring cups; they looked like works of art, but why shouldn’t something you use every day be pretty if it can? I don’t like plastic glasses or dishes and I really don’t like Corelle (in that case, it’s the way that silverware sounds scraping across it. Gives me the shivers. Am I the only one?)

I learned to wash things very carefully, so you will not see pots and pans, cookie sheets, or anything else with grease burned on the outside, or in the corners. Nope. Scrubbed clean. It’s a little thing, it’s not like every inch of my home is immaculate, but that state of clean really matters to me. So too does it matter, to me, how I arrange the dishes and glasses in the cabinets. Just now we use a china cabinet that belongs to my mom (and she and I change the dishes out for each season just because we can and we like to) and so they are very much on display, but even when they are behind closed doors, I want them to look a certain way. It’s almost like a pleasant surprise when you open a door!

It’s not just kitchen ware, of course.  A lot of my linens are secondhand, really old, beautifully soft sheets. And because you seldom find whole sets of anything, I put away what I find until I have something that can go with it. Some of the ‘sets’ I have created please me very much, and cost less than even the cheapest sheets (which I would NEVER buy, because they develop ‘pills’ that leave you feeling you’re sleeping in a bed full of sand!) And because I’ve collected so many things like this, my bed can match in wonderful ways, sheets, blankets, all of it, colors and patterns that harmonize. It’s such a little thing, but I love how I feel when I look at a beautifully made bed. I love it even more knowing I didn’t spend a fortune to do it.

Books. They are arranged just so. And I don’t like having a book with a movie cover on it. Weird, I know, but….it would make it seem that I bought the book just because of the movie, when generally speaking, I will always prefer a book to a movie and so the book comes FIRST! And I want my collection to reflect that. I don’t care if my books are new, either. I have thousands that are second-hand, and a previous owner’s underlining or margin notes don’t bother me at all. Makes me feel we’re discussing those parts, kind of….. With that in mind, I love it when I am given a book to remember someone I’ve lost.

I am a very tactile person. I like the way things feel, and if I don’t like the way they feel, I don’t want them. I love natural fibers and I have several lovely winter coats and cloaks, but nothing scratchy! No way.  I like silk, and cotton, and linen. It is the reason I love vintage lingerie. It is why I don’t have many shoes or boots, but what I do have is leather, not plastic. When I am knitting, whatever I am knitting, the yarn has to feel good between my fingers.

I would rather have antique furniture (not museum quality, you understand, just solid wood and well-constructed) than new stuff that is poor quality.  And I don’t mind at all not having bought everything to match. My husband and I both don’t much care for what he calls the Greyhound Bus Station look (severe arrangements all around the walls…we are the put stuff on the diagonal kind of people….especially our bed!) Someone I used to know said that she believed if you filled a room with things you liked in colors you liked it would all work. Her living room was the first one I’d seen that had several different patterns in it, and it DID work.

And I feel the same way about my jewelry. Never have been a big jewelry store kind of girl; I have a lot of antique and vintage pieces, which are generally pre-owned, estate kinds of things. When we got married, we shopped everywhere until we found exactly what said ‘wedding ring’ to me, and when we found them, my mom commented that it was almost exactly like HER grandmother’s wedding ring had been. I couldn’t remember that ring, but I think there must have been some sense of it in my early memory nonetheless.

I like that. I like knowing WHY I like what I like, and that it’s not just because ‘everyone else has it!’ or ‘I want a diamond bigger than HERS!’ I like hearing, as I often do, “I saw this and it made me think of you.” It shows me that style can be, and in my case IS, a very personal thing, not dependent on trends or status symbols or price tags.

And I like knowing that the genesis for this came from a wonderful passage in my favorite book: “”Style is what you look well in, feel attractive wearing.” Simplicity, grace, flair–distinction of line–never went out of style; it was the crudely sensational, the calculatedly bizarre that withered on the vine.”



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