A few years ago I happened on an article in a magazine, probably a design mag, can’t remember…it was about Wabi Sabi, the art of imperfection, a Japanese movement/following of sorts. At the time I was living in my dream house, albeit only one floor of it. The house was built in 1889 on top of a small hill where apparently Civil War soldiers had hunkered down behind….they found a cannon ball when the house was built and promptly placed it in its parlor wall. I had always loved the house having lived in Harrisonburg before as an undergrad. I walked by it every day on my way to classes, I was always late (except to Advanced Printmaking, my favorite) but I would slow down just enough to gaze at its welcoming front porch, huge shady tree in the front yard, its widow’s walk.
Then when I returned to Harrisonburg six years later, I lived there alone, such an indulgence. Piles of books lay on the floor, huge 12 foot windows looked out at a rope swing hanging from the shady tree, my bedroom was also my living room, little bits of my art scattered on the walls, a stained glass turtle night light lit up the room at night. A ghost lived there too. I never saw her. My dear friend Carrie (who stayed with me awhile) swore with me that whenever we smelled burning toast, it was the little old lady making a snack. She died there years before at the ripe old age of 90 something after spending her afternoon up on the roof brushing off the leaves . She rented her house out to art students. I felt right at home. She was like a warm embrace, it was my home too.
Back to Wabi Sabi….the place was full of crystal door knobs spinning on doors that didn’t shut all of the way, watermark stains on the bathroom ceiling that I could turn into some picture if I was in there long enough, peeling wallpaper, crumbling things and I loved it. Old houses have that lived in look, that wear and tear I love so much. And I figure if I ever get to live in one again, all of its crumbling and dust can be forgiven…its just wabi sabi. Just the way I like it.