Written by Crystal Cauley for The Urban News & Wilma Dykeman Project for Writers of Color ~
I remember looking around my empty apartment with a tug at my heart about “starting over,” never realizing that my theme for my new place would impact my life in positive ways. As I walked from room to room, I hoped for something different and unique that would wow my visitors once they walked through the door.
The kitchen had no fancy backsplash, the floors appeared at first glance to say “Cover me up, sister,” with a throw rug. I noticed how calm I felt and the place had great energy. I imagined how the previous humans that lived and slept in my new space had good spirits of happiness and tranquility.
I thought there had to be something that would give me the theme I was searching for. I was on a budget and my next stop was a consignment shop. The antiques and patterned furniture did not speak to me. The owner asked me a few times if I needed any assistance but I was on a mission and drowned his voice out. I was in my own world, feeling globally inspired though I lived in a small city protected by the Blue Ridge Mountains, and I planned my own interior escape.
I walked and saw more bamboo furniture, a mixture of pillows that looked like bright rainbows with a few animal prints, some high-priced stuff and other vintage pieces. I heard a voice whisper “look up” and the wall held this beautiful Ghanaian carving of a woman kneeling down with a child on her back. I knew that it was perfect, and I fell in love at first sight. The carving symbolized strength, pride, and motherhood—and I love being a mother.
I felt like my quest to find a theme was answered in that store. I put the carving on “hold”—the budget-friendly term known as “layaway.” The Kenyan carving encourages the innate beauty we all have as God’s children. The colors kept my depression in check, consoling me to stay neutral and grounded. The South African sculpture of a family generation standing and holding each other up reminded me of unity and how important it is to help all my brothers and sisters. The traditional mud cloth that was placed over the fireplace held secrets with its symbols from Mali as I reminisced on who made the beautiful pieces of painted cloth.
The apartment size of 900 African-decorated square feet gave me a spiritual and visual voyage back to my ancestral homeland. The theme taught a cultural lesson while reminding me that I was the designer of my own life. I remember looking around my empty apartment with a tug at my heart about starting “over,” never realizing that the theme of my new place would teach me that finding the masterpiece within yourself is the best design!