the curtains are a metaphor


I know what you’re thinking, Gravyheads.  My posts on this blog are precious few these days.  This is owing largely to the demands of work, life, Gravy Baby, family and all sorts of random things in between, like the night we got really into watching clips of the Ron Swanson character from Parks & Recreation, and the next thing we knew it was almost — gasp — eleven o’clock.

So I bet you’ve ventured over to my little space here and you’re wondering why in the world I’m choosing to dedicate the lead photo on the first post I’ve written in over a week to our bedroom curtains.  I’m doing it because these are oh so much more than just curtains, my friends.  These curtains symbolize a lot of things that we here at Gravy Central are just now figuring out for ourselves.

Those of you who have been reading about our adventures for awhile will recall that back in Kuala Lumpur, I hung some hugely graphic black-and-white panels in our bedroom, which had two walls of huge windows.  The curtains were great because they were a departure from my usual taste, but when you’re halfway around the world, decorating decisions are often guided by what’s avallable and also are a really great opportunity to experiment a little.  I figured I could always blame my crazy styling decisions on the stifling tropical humidity.

Fast forward to today, which marks six months since we’ve been living in Charleston.  Six months!  Six months into living in Malaysia, I’d finally started to feel at home.  Back then, in the era before Gravy Baby and in the throes of my life as an International Lady of Leisure, I dedicated almost all of my time to making the space we had feel like a home.

We’ve tried to make our house into a home here in Charleston, too, which I’ve talked about a little bit before.  The Gravy Baby was so disoriented for the first few days/weeks/months after we moved into our new house that we threw almost every bit of our spare time into creating a welcoming place for him.  But things just still seemed — off, somehow.  I attributed it to all sorts of things — reverse culture shock, separation anxiety (from being apart from the Gravy Baby all day long) and sleep deprivation (from being up with the Gravy Baby all night long).  While we’ve been enjoying Charleston on the whole, the hubby and I definitely had days where we felt like we were reeling a bit from all the changes we’ve been going through.

Bit by bit, step by step, we’ve noticed while we’ve been so busy trying to make things right for the Gravy Baby, there are things we need to do for ourselves and for each other, too.  That’s where the curtains come in.  Ever since we moved into this house, I’ve complained every morning that I didn’t sleep all that well the night before because of the neighbor’s floodlight that shines into our bedroom.  Almost every morning, for six entire months, I’ve mentioned that doggone light.

Have you ever had a moment in your life where you realize that the solution to a problem is so astonishingly simple that you feel like a complete and total idiot for not thinking of it sooner?  That’s what these curtains represent for me.  Two weeks ago, the hubby and I went to Target and bought four sets of curtains in different colors and styles.  As soon as the hubby had installed the curtain rod, I chose the blue-green panels pictured above, and our bedroom was instantly transformed.

While we’ve been so singularly focused on making the rest of our house quaint and inviting, our own bedroom has become the repository for everything else that didn’t fit, or that we didn’t have time to deal with — clean laundry, work bags, papers to be filed — you name it.  The curtains were a turning point for us.  We realized that in our efforts to take care of everything else, we just haven’t done even the smallest thing to make ourselves feel like we’re at home.  I think that happens a lot with busy people, especially busy parents.  For the hubby and me, we wanted so much for our Gravy Baby and the people in our lives to feel at home that we forgot to make it feel like home for us.


Since we hung the curtains, I’ve made some more little changes to our bedroom, like switching the previous color palette, which was basically a mish-mash of Malaysian batiks and a peacock blue pillow that I just saw and happened to like, to a more relaxing, calming palette to match the blue-green curtains.  And I made it a goal to spend five minutes a day making the bed, which I’ve done every day for the last two weeks.  It’s amazing what coming home to clean, made-up bedroom does to one’s psyche at the end of a long, harried day.


The hubby also reminded me that before the Gravy Baby was born, we used to regularly keep fresh-cut flowers in our bedroom.  They always brightened up the room and made us feel a little bit fancy pants.  Since we’ve moved here, we still have fresh-cut flowers in our house every week, but we’ve never thought to put them in the bedroom. Again, I smack my forehead with the simplicity of the solution to our outlook on our home, but really, adding some flowers to our bedroom make me feel like I’m waking up in a little bed-and-breakfast off the coast of Maine.  I just love it.

The flowers, the curtains — this is the essence of what I’ve learned in the past couple of weeks.  Even though the hubby and I want nothing but the best for our Gravy Baby, we need to remember that doing the best for him also means taking a little time out to take care of ourselves.  Even if it’s just to hang some $40 curtains from Target and plunk a few roses in a vase.

I know that there are a lot of problems out there that aren’t solvable with a couple of roses or a set of curtains, but I’m telling you this so that you don’t have to suffer the same fate as me and have to admit with embarrassment six months from now that you’ve been sleeping with a floodlight in your face all this time.


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Brooke Bourgeoissays:

If it makes you feel any better, we’ve been in our house now for 2 years and still have no curtains in our bedroom. There is a street light that shines right onto my pillow and, instead of hanging the curtains THAT I PURCHASED OVER A YEAR AGO, we tuck the blinds into the window frame. I mean, can’t a girl get some curtains hung around here?
Bonus note – the first night we slept here, Scott switched to the other side of the bed because of said light. So sweet.

Brooke Bourgeoissays:

I forget that sarcasm and rage cannot always be detected in text….no, Scott was not sweet. In fact, he moved to the side without the street lamp and left it for me. But, update, I finally got ONE curtain hung to block the light. Your post must have gotten me really fired up and I wouldn’t stop complaining. However, the other 2 windows are still bare!

Australia and Visasays:

You really did a great job on this. Looking forward to other posts.

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About me

I’m Ann, a mom / wife / lawyer / certified culinary enthusiast. I share recipes, travel guides and home life tips while living overseas. Currently based in São Paulo, Brazil.

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