The prettiest yard in my town, I’m convinced, is about half a mile away, on my regular running route, on a corner that used to be dull, in front of a house that used to be brown.
It’s a mid-century home with a door that is particularly wide; the knob is in the center, instead of off to the side, and it reminds me of Mary Jane-esque heels a century ago, when the buckle sometimes landed in the straight middle, rather than closer to the ankle bone.
Sometime during the pandemic, a new family bought the house. They immediately painted it pink. They enclosed the garage. They planted wildflowers that grew tall and exploded. Now the house seems vaguely magical, intensely and beautifully whimsical.
I pass by it often, and see the changes as they come. I often see the owner out there, in overalls, measuring something, planting something. She is committed, and I admire her, and wish I had such vision.
Years ago, I knew a woman who wore the most fantastic clothes. I worked in an office then, an office where people leaned towards the conventional, the traditional, the expected. This person was the opposite. It often seemed like she came in almost as an afterthought, as if she’d had a million things she could do instead of work, though she was always on time. She blew into the building, often laughing, carrying an oversized bag and wearing a whole host of colors. She was brilliant, and upbeat, and held a PhD, all while wearing unforgettable combinations, all while inviting others into her world with a wide grin.
After a few months, I realized I was wearing more colors to work. Not only that, I realized other people were, too. We started to acknowledge it to one another: oh, I bought this because I thought it might be something ——- would wear; I saw this and thought that I love the way —- looks in hers, maybe I could pull it off too.
We didn’t become clones of one another; not at all. We each had our own styles. But over time, the longer this bright coworker was in our office, the more colorful we all became.
What an amazing impact to have on others.
I would never have thought to plant a wildflower garden instead of grass in a front yard. It never would have occurred to me that I could take a musty old brown house and paint it pink.
But now I’ve seen it. Now I know it can be done.
Maybe I’ll find my way to something similar, to a time when my own spot on the earth is something original enough that there are secret admirers of it, people who walk by with an eye towards its beauty. It seems like a good goal: to become enough of myself that it inspires others to become more true to themselves, together marveling at the joy that comes with this sometimes wonderful world, when we allow ourselves to shine.