Something there is that doesn’t love a wall. –Robert Frost
I don’t have a clear memory of the walls of my childhood. We moved around a ton, so we barely had enough time to decorate even if we had been so inclined. I do recall when seventh grade me bought a few huge black and white posters of movie stars (Elizabeth Taylor and the like) at a yard sale and taped them up above my bed. Mission accomplished! But Liz and her friends didn’t accompany us from Atlanta to Boston, so my Massachusetts bedroom remained unadorned.
As I got older it became a thing: I didn’t know exactly what I wanted on my walls, so I opted for nothing. Wall art is such a statement of personality after all, right? And it seemed I spent an inordinate amount of time trying on personalities. I was always envious of friends who put together fabulous wall arrangements (I especially think of my friends John and Louie, who collect art and always know just how to display it).
When we moved to Apel Ave. in 1989, we were greeted with an expanse of wall that, after stripping the icky wallpaper, cried out to be enhanced with SOMETHING. So I went to town, creating groupings of family photos that included my parents as (adorable) children, alongside curated selections from my voluminous library of Seyfried kid pix. As the years progressed, I hung large collages of some travels (Jamaica in 2000! Mission Trip to Alaska 2006!) It was quite the mish mosh, but I lacked the inspiration to revisit my handiwork.
Finally, we had the walls repainted a couple of months ago. Down came the faded, sepia-toned pic of Grandma and Grandpa Seyfried and seven or eight of their ten kids, staring fiercely into the camera. Down came the framed montage of memories from Costa Rica. And how about the beautiful watercolor by my talented sister C, just incongruously hanging out next to photos of toddler Evan and baby Rose? Down!
The paint job looks great. So great that, at this writing, we haven’t hung a single picture on the now pristine walls. Can they just stay bare, I wonder? Wouldn’t that look…clean? No, I know I need to get busy turning our house into a branch of the Guggenheim. But where to begin? I’m sick of the previous selection, so I face the chore of framing and hanging DIFFERENT pictures. I read an article about Best Ways to Design a Photo Wall, involving drawing the desired configuration on paper, tacking THAT on the wall, then hanging the pictures according to the schematic. The woman shown creating her elaborate photo wall is smiling and looks relaxed. I, on the other hand, anticipate a lengthy, unpleasant procedure involving broken frames, fingers hit with hammers, etc. And I know as soon as it’s finished, somebody else will get married or have a baby, and those obligatory new photos will ruin the whole design!
Maybe I’ll just stick Jamaica back on the wall and be done with it.