I have braved the ice fields and winds to return to Harper House. Oh, how it howled and the cold unforgiving, but I persevered! I have cocooned myself in the bedroom with several blankets to recover. I call to the servants to make dinner, but they do not answer! I fear there is no hope for me. I shan’t thaw. I shan’t relax; my neck and back a tangle of nerves. Send for the priest. Tell him to bring pizza.
Lauren Mildred Flenderson
I canceled my subscription to Real Simple magazine today. I started my subscription to this embodiment of domesticity sometime in 2007. To explain why I canceled, I should explain why I subscribed in the first place.
I had ordered Real Simple as a gift for a friend. She loved quirky home decor and had an eye for fashion and, not having much knowledge of magazines in my early 20s, I confused Domino Magazine with Real Simple. I corrected my error with my friend, but decided to switch the magazine subscription to my name after reading an issue.
The magazine was a reference for all the skills I lacked: Homemaking. Cooking. Fashion. Shopping. Socializing. I had launched into my adult life with a minimal skill set for these activities, a reflection of my life growing up. My home ec classes only taught us how to cook breakfast, how to sew a pillow, and that sometimes store brands were quality food choices. My childhood meals often consisted of what we affectionately termed “Box + meat = food”. My family never had guests over. My parents really didn’t have friends or family. Our decor was limited to family photos and white walls. I also didn’t know about how to “dress up”. My mother never wore make up. Never went out. Shoes were tennis shoes and our uniform was a shirt and jeans/sweats. As I would meet others and learn of their experiences growing up I would feel these were fortunate circumstances, comparatively, but I could not deny that I was deficient in some essential skills.
Real Simple became my manual. I diligently snipped out recipes. I saved articles that would teach me how to interact with coworkers and navigate social situations with friends. I slowly began to add accessories to my outfits. We bought art. We had lovely holiday decor. I became a gift giving queen. I still really minimally wear makeup, but when I do I’m happy with it. I was so eager to learn these things. It filled in the gaps I had. It did it with a kind, neutral tone. Sage advice that some people would have had passed along to them from family or a grandparent… I had the pages of my magazine.
Today, I follow several blogs that cover my favorite topics and pinterest is full of ideas. I’m sure Real Simple may attribute some of their decreased sales to these facts. I’m sure my circumstances are not uncommon. But for me… The real reason I unsubscribed is that I’m grown. I’m 29. I think I’ve graduated from Real Simple University. When flipping through my latest issue, I realized that the magazine didn’t grab me like they used to. It was time.
So thank you, Real Simple. You taught me a lot. You equipped me with skills I have found so useful in my adult life. But it’s time to leave the nest. I’m keeping you friended on Pinterest. I’ll recommend you to young people I meet that, like me, need a nice neutral place to learn about life without fear of judgment from the inquiry. Thanks for the assistance with my wedding, which was so helpful since we were one the first of our friends to do it and my family was not involved in that day. Thanks for the meals. The Bed, Bath, and Beyond coupons. The stories of other families. Thanks for everything. I might have left, but there are many more readers where I came from who have much to learn.
This was the modern chandelier that sat above my husband and I at dinner a few weeks ago. I really liked it, so I took a kind of artsy selfie pic in it.
Things I will miss about Houston: the guy who plays piano about three apartments down from me. He’s pretty good and the piano is by his window, so everyone wakes up to lovely music on the weekends.
Another thing about Houston I will miss: Houston Free Share, a Freecycle group. It’s been a terrific resource for getting rid of things before our move, but just in general, it’s nice giving things you don’t need to people who want them. I’ve probably given out ten things for every item I got… but I never minded it. Helps me get rid of the clutter. Detroit has a similar group, I hope it’s as well run.
Things I will miss in Houston: House of Pies. The only pie I’ll eat here is strawberry, but the greasy spoon fare has been a staple since I first moved here 8 years ago. We made a point of taking out-of-towners here, usually before heading to the airport. My husband made a habit of checking to see what silverware was magnetized. The Club Breakfast comforted me after late night work evenings. I’ll miss it.
Things I will miss about Houston: Brown Bag Deli. Just a really damn good sandwich. (It’s the bread, I think.)