Domestic Gods and Goddesses

Inspiration from an exhibition, a wedding and the great life indoors.

Yesterday a good friend married his long time partner in a sweet and loving ceremony in Georgetown.  As we walked to the reception at the university through the fall leaves and bright sunshine, we were both struck by how different our wedding was from theirs. This couple has been together for quite some time as domestic partners.  Their lives are already completely wound up in and around their wonderful families.  I loved it when the groom’s sister-in-law said in her toast, “I’d say welcome to the family, but you are already a big part of our family.”

Tom and I had only known each other for a short time when we decided to get married almost 25 years ago, and we really had never shared a domestic life before our wedding day.  Our first child was born ten months after our wedding, four months after we bought our first house.  After our first chaotic year together, we found a good way to bring some control into our lives:  We became domestic god and domestic goddess.  Even though we have always been 50/50 partners and we have both worked full-time, Tom had his realm and I had mine.  He does the lawn and the dishes and the laundry.  I cook and am in charge of the inside of the house and was the parent in charge during illness, upset and homework assignments.

The domestic arts have been a good place to be creative.  I have painted the dining room almost as many colors as Benjamin Moore makes.  I have planned kids birthdays and band bashes.  I have decorated each room with care, tried new recipes, taken the Christmas card photos, and served as the organizer of the PTA International Night Talent Show at the middle school, an event that was fraught with terrible diplomatic peril.  As the children grew and I had more time to my own devices, I’ve found other places for that creative energy — in my art making and in my yoga practice.

So when the weather turned chilly today, it was nice to plan a day together to putz around the house.  Tom turned to the yard, and after making a few dinners for the rest of the week, I turned to my little corner studio.  At first, I thought I might paint something from our own wedding, but it was really hard to get inspired to paint on the theme of love when I kept heaving in laughter at the photos in our wedding album. (Tom was so mad at having to take photos while everyone was inside celebrating, that his eyes get more and more intense as you flip pages in the album.  It is really almost like a pop up book when you look at his head.  I on the other hand, look as though I could take flight.  My mother had a 24 inch waist and we had to have her wedding gown altered for me with a ginormous bow on my back. )

So instead I found my inspiration coming from a show I went to on Friday night at the Gallery at Iona.  Senior artist Joan Shapiro began making necklaces later in life, after a friend who was a jeweler refused a commission, telling her, “Joan.  You are a smart lady.  You can figure this out.”  Which is what she did — magnificently. I’ve never done anything like making jewelry.  I figured out how to string the beads but the first attempt didn’t quite get the sense of domestic bliss that inspired me today.  So I added some things from Tom’s corner workbench.  The coffee cans full of screws and nuts and bolts yielded old, painted and rusted hook eyes and brand spanking new washers that complemented an old earring and various ceramic beads.  A necklace for a domestic goddess, inspired by her domestic god.

Joining two lives together — whether you’ve been together for a while or not long at all — is like stringing the beads.  One at a time.  Balanced. Harmonious.  Beautiful to the ones who choose to wear it.

Congrats to all my friends who have tied the knot lately.