Bare Walls

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This Saturday will mark a year since I moved into this apartment, the afternoon after I stepped foot in Wisconsin for the first time. As I mentioned recently, I didn’t come up here with much, and I still haven’t done a lot to get all my stuff from Toledo shipped up to me, mostly because I’ve been keeping so busy here that I haven’t had the time to figure out just how to do that economically. I brought most of the essentials with me when I first came here, and I’ve been able to flesh those out over the past twelve months, but I’m still at a point where my unquestionable needs are dictating what I put in this apartment with me, and being so busy means that I just don’t need a lot of the stuff I still have in Toledo right now.

That’s resulted in me not really doing much to spiff up this apartment on an aesthetic level. Part of what happens when you grow up with visual artists in the family is that you never really think that much about artwork to put up on the walls because you’re never at a shortage for it, and by the time I was old enough to start making decoration choices in my room, I had so many books that a lot of my bedroom’s wall space was being taken up with bookshelves. (I did have some Bj√∂rk and Tori Amos and Sarah McLachlan posters, of course, but I tried to keep those on my doors so I’d have more space for books when, never if, I needed it.) By the time I finished grad school, I was already having to commandeer other areas of the house for my books.

Books are heavy, though, and even if I had a solution to getting all my books here tomorrow (and the money to implement that solution), I’m not sure if keeping them all in this apartment would be kind to the people living below me. I’ll probably put all my books and other media in my spare bedroom anyway — I’ve always said that I’d need a two-bedroom apartment even if I was living on my own, just so I’d have room for all my books — and that still leaves me a lot of wall space to work with here, especially in the rooms of my apartment where I might actually have company, and looking at all that white space over the past year has made me wonder just how I should fill it up.

The first thing I want to do, when I have the time to do it right, is hire a digital artist to create vector art of Mom, using the few photographs of her that I still have access to. I’ve already got a design in mind, but this is something I absolutely have to take my time doing, because I need to make sure I hire the best artist I can for a project this important. I have a spot in my apartment lined up for the print I want to have made of that art, but that’s just one piece, and that leaves me with a lot of space to fill up.

What I want to do is fill my living room with photographs from my favourite places in Toledo, Wildwood Preserve Metropark and the Toledo Botanical Garden. The problem is that even though I took a lot of photos there over the years, they weren’t taken with the best cameras, at least by today’s standards. Part of the reason I haven’t added any photography to the .org for so many years is because my old digital camera is an absolute dinosaur compared to what’s out there today (even on bargain-basement prepaid smartphones), and I want to pick up a digital SLR camera (and learn how to use it properly) before I put anything more up here, and I really didn’t have the money for a new camera back when I was still in Toledo. I’ve got the money now, but I can’t exactly walk to Wildwood or the Toledo Botanical Garden from my bedroom any longer.

I’m hoping to go back to Ohio next May for the commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of the Kent State Massacre, and that will mean driving through Toledo for the first time since I left there nearly two years ago. Later May is usually the best time to catch the early spring greens I love so much at Wildwood, and the Toledo Botanical Garden usually hits peak colour around the summer solstice, but I’m really hoping that I can take a digital SLR camera with me back to Ohio next spring, snap a bucketload of photos, then have some of those photos printed on great big canvases that I can hang up around my apartment here to help me fill up the empty spaces and, even more importantly, remind me of the beautiful places near where I came from. I’ll never be able to truly go home again, but the least I can do to help me feel better here in Wisconsin is to bring those reminders of home into my apartment with me. Being able to see snapshots of my old haunts every time I walk into my living room will probably mean a lot more to me than any of my books, and even if I can never go back to my old home again, having those images here should help this place feel more like a new home to me.

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