“I’m going to have to zoom in on your face and on the food, Mary,” said my cameraman colleague during a recent filming session in my kitchen. We were shooting a low-budget video about low-budget pantry staples geared at Gen-Z students in Florence.
“It’s just that you don’t have very pretty cabinets, so a wide shot won’t look all that nice.”
I raised an eyebrow and almost reacted defensively. But the implicit confirmation that both my canned fagioli and my face were prettier than the rest of the kitchen was a net positive, so I let the comment slide. No small feat! Biting my tongue on matters related to my home, its rented nature notwithstanding, doesn’t come naturally to me. (Biting my tongue on basically everything else is hard, too, but I digress).
Healthy or not, I tend to look at all the aesthetic elements of my everyday life—my apartment being a prominent one—as extensions and expressions of my rawest self, which means comments about them feel personal. And since renting inevitably involves design compromises, like windowless living rooms and lowest-common-denominator cabinets, my interior decorator deep down is always bursting to tell visitors, you know I didn’t pick that out, right? Seeking validation in this way is probably not the path to inner balance, but it does make for lively discussions.
My colleague, as it turned out, must have noticed my arched eyebrow, or else had learned a thing or two from being married: “Non ti preoccupare,” he rushed to add. “I know it’s not your fault the landlord didn’t provide you with pretty cabinets.”
I’m not proud of how much I perked up after he said that, but I did feel better (I’m working on the inner balance thing). The pantry cabinets aren’t pretty, but they’re full, which offers its own kind of bliss. Plus, I store my spices in charming glass jars with pink labels affixed to them, because you do what you can in a rental.