Photograph: a picture painted by the sun without instruction in art.

Mike’s boss (an interior designer) came over for dinner on Sunday night. I was appropriately intimidated (especially after seeing his house a week earlier), but I tried to keep in mind that I can’t have my home all Better-Homes-and-Gardened up perfectly at the age of 25. And of course, he was kind and complimentary, because he isn’t the kind of person who belittles people in their own homes. (At least in front of their faces. hehe.) He complimented the colors we chose, and the card catalog, and then he said something interesting: “I never use pictures in decorating as much as you have here, but I really love it.”

I told a friend last night – I think sometimes less affluent people use pictures as decoration because they are a fairly inexpensive way to decorate. Not only that, but my interest in photography has grown over the past few years, and I take a lot more pictures than I used to, both for scrapbooking and for decorating. I like that I have pictures of us to display throughout the house, and I have spent a lot of time buying frames and sorting through pictures in order to display our favorites.

A lot of this, I think, comes from pictures not being taken much when I was a kid. Our camera was stolen when our house was broken into, and it simply wasn’t a top-priority replacement item. We had cheap cameras, and we didn’t take a lot of vacations, and no one took very many pictures. And when they did get taken, it could be years before we got them developed, both because of a lack of funds and a lack of interest. When I was in high school, we finally got some pictures developed from some trips we took when I was 11 or 12. I have taken the photography in our house to the other extreme, insisting on photo development the minute we get the film out of the camera.

The real reason, the secret reason no one knows that explains why I decorate with so many photos is that I once read or heard this story about a girl who died in her early twenties. She was held up as a model of, oh, pretty much everything, but especially lack of materialism, because when they went to her house she didn’t have a fancy TV or lots of possessions, but she had photo albums filled with pictures of her friends and family, and pictures displayed throughout her house. The story concluded with the idea that she had stored up her treasures not in the earthly possessions that will fade, but in more valuable things. Like pretty much everyone who lives in America (or the western world), I struggle with materialism, and that story has stayed with me. My pictures are at least in part an effort to say, “Look, I have a nice house but there is more to me than my possessions. I care about my friends and family more than I can say in words, and I want that to be known.”

I think that’s both good and bad, just like most things. It could be considered a facade to try to convince people that I’m not shallow, or it could be a glimpse of what is really important to me. Honestly, it’s probably some of both. (Plus a little of “not being wealthy enough to get the decorations I would really like to have.”) I was glad, though, that the conscious decision that I have made to decorate with pictures was appreciated by our friend, because the shallow part of me really wanted the interior designer’s stamp of approval. hehe.

(The credit for the title quote goes to Ambrose Bierce.)

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