depression is de rigueur when you aren't your true self
My name is Letitia. I'm an aspiring domestic goddess, but I was a homemade virgin. Here is my story.
Growing up as a seemingly intellectual young black girl in a statistically stereotypical minority neighborhood, everyone just assumed the budding journalist in me admired Oprah, and no one else. They always assumed it was her I wanted to be. And, for a long time, likely out of pure subconscious agreement, I thought the same. I'd dream of having a talk show, scurry at every chance to put together a make-pretend interview segment for Humanities class presentations, and even plan the different schools bearing my name that I would open when I got older. But it was all for show- a fleeting aspiration wrapped up in the world's perception of me like the airy strands of cotton candy. It wasn't until I became a pubescent teenager that my true idol emerged like a stark willow tree from the thickest of shadows. Martha Stewart is her name, domestic goddess is her game. And you know what did me in? Those gosh darn EasyBake Ovens! Yup, that was me: straight-A student, young, black, and obsessed with a small pink made-in-China pastry maker. I was like an anomaly. I represented everything I loved, but that just didn't exist at the time. Where were all the girls that looked like me on TV? Why wasn't there a legion of them baking away, throwing DIY sewing parties, or interviewing the latest fashion guru? It was Martha, and only Martha, and slowly over time, out of sheer disconnect with my identity, Martha and I grew apart.
Then one day in my twenties, I found myself content at home - a Ken & Barbie-like existence I had created with my then better half - perusing the web when I discovered that Martha was being sentenced to prison. Prison? Whaaat! Who knew money could get one into so much trouble with the law. Well, apparently not Martha, and off she went. It was then that I felt an almost gnawing feeling eating away at my being. Though it was me who voluntarily ended our relationship years earlier, knowing she would really be gone made it all the more real, and I realized then, that the gift of time, just as identity, shouldn't be taken for granted. If domesticity is what I yearned for, then I saw no reason why I shouldn't have it. I bid farewell to Martha, turned to take a look at my apartment, and my life, and set out to make something.
Make something. Ha! Sounds simple right? You'd be mistaken. In fact, no one really tells you just how hard it is to jumble together your maze of creativity with the actual non-procrastinating will to produce. And what...what on Earth could I even do? Little ol me with only the talent of thought and gift of writing to my name. What would ever come of that? I took a peek into my past, unshelving dusty treasure boxes and cracking open childhood diaries. Peeks turned into delves, and days became weeks. That whole period of self-discovery is wonderfully summed up by a chapter I read a while back from Molly Wizenberg's A Homemade Life. She wrote short and sweetly, "you are what you love". It was clear to me then as it should have always been, I was and am an artist, simply because I never go a day without aiming to produce exceptional aesthetically pleasing works.
In the summer of 2008, I woke up one morning and, the way a hungry person would decide to cook breakfast, decided I would work for or create a fashion magazine, as if it were the most natural progression - to barely be of drinking age and an editor. But just as I would bake a batch of cupcakes with sprinkled frosting and dulce german chocolate filling, I saw the magazine idea as a recipe and I would just have to concoct my own creation. My little magazine was as handmade as it gets, both figuratively and literally. I snatched up a domain name, and spent the next season engulfing myself with the project of building upon my ideas from scratch. Summer turned into winter, winter became spring, and before you know it, I was making something that went out into the world for all to read. But even with the magazine's overnight cult fame and global takeover, I felt something was missing, as I felt it always was, and it was the day I saw Martha Stewart Living at the book store, perched up on the shelf like a gleaming star on the holiday tree, that I realized just what it was.
To live a homemade life is to live a handmade one. The two couldn't exist without each other. Even when I think back on my most barren apartments with not a drop of paint on the walls, there was still the four poster bed we built together, and the Thanksgiving meal I slaved over from scratch, and the silly photo collage hanging for dear life on the wall. It was never much, but it was something. Before I knew it, I had a vintage Singer sewing machine which hijacked all the pennies from my rainy day piggy bank, and the kitchen foyer nook was inhabited by scraps of fabric strewn across the floor like rag dolls in an all-girl nursery room. I felt at peace. I felt at home. What came next was organic, but nonetheless horrifying. I discovered something on premium cable called the FoodNetwork channel. After that, life as I knew it would end. There were days I wouldn't leave the house; instead I'd be sunken into the couch, the source of an indeterminate foul smell I denied came from me. The days I did decide to rise up from my transient state and shower, I'd be in the kitchen with full force, testing my own original recipes for honey mustard breaded pork chops and caramel rocky road cupcakes.
These days, as I spend my sleepless nights doodling in my journal, harvesting new ideas for the pages of L Magazine, my only wish is that I would have discovered photography back then, the way it is so prevalent in my life now. Maybe then would I have proof of my Barney & Friends inspired curtains (don't ask!), or the half dozen Louis XVI chairs I reupholstered in Tiffany blue suede, or the housewarming party I threw that had a menu with more homemade dishes on it than the menus of Olive Garden and Starbucks combined; maybe then would I have proof that I finally became who I should have always been. For now, I'll always have the trail of written pages I leave behind. And that's enough for now.
What about you? Do you ever see a disconnect between who you feel you are and how you live your life?