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I grew up outside city limits. In my upbringing, there were no baseball evenings, annual yard sales or citywide clean-up. Now that we live in town, I look forward to these things immensely. When I described this town to a nurse in San Francisco, she said, “oh my gosh, you live in Stars Hollow.” Which is to say, we live in the dream town: a small town, with third places, where people gather, know each other, support each other, mourn for each other and have unique city events that could only happen in a small town. Last weekend we saw the citywide yard sale and Fruit and Nut Festival take place. This weekend, it is time for the citywide clean-up. It is a busy time of year.

When I was away from home in early April, I felt eager to get my hand back into my art. I could, at the time, do little more than sort photos. It is wonderful to think of how far we have come in our home. To design is a process. You can take steps in the beginning and if you really know your taste, your way of functioning and color, you might not need to make any changes for a long time. More likely, you will make decisions and change your mind in the future. But every step in decorating one’s home is a process. The home represents those who live in it. It has a soul just as there is a collective spirit to the family. Our town is a larger version of a home with municipal codes instead of rules and a much larger family.

It takes time to develop a home as a marriage takes time and as a family takes time and a town takes time. With each additional to the family, the home must also change. It grows. It goes through trauma. You can mark the growth of your children, not just with measurements on a wall, but also with photographs of when that bed was there and that room was overwhelmed with baby things and when you tried to organize all those clothes. If you are involved with your home as you are with your family, it becomes an embodiment of your history. And that is a beautiful thing.

It is not always the case. Sometimes we neglect our home. Sometimes we neglect our family. The two are not equal. Even in a neglected home, where you did not give a lick about decorating, you will still have memories. When we did not have a bed frame…when picture frames sat in a shopping bag on the desk for a month…when the living room was nothing but boxes. Even then it can still echo the activities of our year.

There is no perfect home and there is no perfect family. There is no perfect town. If your home is perfect, I suspect it is impersonal, or a vacation house you just arrived to but have not lived in for some time. Because when people live in the home, it must change as much as we do.

And so it is time for the annual clean-up day, when we wander our property for those neglected pieces whose time has passed and must be let go, for the appliance boxes we held onto in case of a return, to trim the trees and haul the brush. This weekend, as well as last, you can invest in your family, your home, and your town, as can only happen in a small town like this.

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