Lived in

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Over the last few weeks, potential renters have come to view my home and peek inside my refrigerator door. My family remains on high alert–no bed will go unmade, no scrap of paper left un-filed, no books left un-stacked. Finding crumbs and streaks on a most-unforgiving stainless steel counter top, after I already cleaned it, is enough to send me into a spiral of crazy. I found myself wiping down a perfectly clean toilet at six o’clock this morning because I suspected it might possibly smell funny.

My husband told me that people are well aware we live here. As in, we actually make messes, hang towels to dry, and leave the occasional streak on the kitchen counter top. He said this as I mentally prepared to make the bed with him still sitting in it. It wouldn’t be the first time.

I don’t consider myself a perfectionist, but I do like to put on a good show. One employing lots of smoke and mirrors and a spritz of vanilla scented perfume. I am as emotionally messy as the next person, or maybe the next five people, but most of the time I find myself reaching for the rag to wipe away the scent of it. And yet, it lingers. The Nester likes to say: It doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful. She writes about bedrooms and kitchens, but I know she also embraces this philosophy about life. It sounds so simple, like the secret can’t quite be true because duh, we know that already. But, I think the message becomes warped as we whisper it down the lane. When was the last time you looked in the mirror and congratulated yourself on your imperfections, your scars born from a well-worn life? When did you last give yourself enough grace to say, I’m a mess, but damn I’m beautiful?

A few summers ago, I sat near an older gentleman at an outdoor café. He wore turquoise and feathers and a deep mahogany tan. The lines and grooves along his face told a story, and I traced them with my eyes and wondered where they began? Who did he love in the middle? Where would this trail end and another begin? He was a curious sight in the middle of a crowd of Swiss families all wearing hiking boots and parkas from the local Migros XX. I believe he received more than a few strange looks. He was perfectly imperfect. An original. He lived in his skin, and you could tell he liked it, lines, feathers, and all.

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  • “An original” Yes. Beautiful post. I wrote something awhile back about having or being a “character” and how in the homogenization (sp?!) of our culture, that has gone from being a good thing, to being a bad thing. Our house has plenty of character, though, like that man’s face, and I believe the bumps and grooves (ie. imperfections) of our lives are the places where the gospel has the best chance of sticking. Now . . . just to LIVE what I say I believe, that is the challenge . . .

    • KimberlyCoyle

      I love the image of the gospel sticking to the imperfections. Absolutely. I’m learning more and more to appreciate the character in people, and look for it in myself too.

  • Love this, “I’m a mess, but damn I’m beautiful?.” Helps me feel not so alone. 🙂 Love your word pictures, as always.

    • KimberlyCoyle

      You’re not alone:)

  • Kimberly Amici

    I am still learning to be comfortable in my imperfections – I appreciate the reminder.

    • KimberlyCoyle

      So am I:)

  • I like that description of the elderly man.

    I am a killer perfectionist…it’s kind of killing me.

    • KimberlyCoyle

      Working as a writer does seem to magnify this tendency, don’t you think?

  • Your honesty refreshes, like a spritz of vanilla scent. 😉

    • (In all seriousness, your honesty truly refreshes, and I wish I could meet the man with feathers, and have the guts to wear one myself, if that’s what would free me to be fully myself.)

      • KimberlyCoyle

        Me too, Ann. Me too. Of course, I’d wear feathers with a hint of vanilla;)