THE CURATED HOME
by Michelle E. Crouch
When maintaining the curated home, one must behave much as if were one were employed at a museum. The collections management database, however, will not exist on a computer or even on yellowed paper files. You will have to create the catalog in your head. It may help to invent a mental taxonomy. For instance: “memorabilia, rare” – which consist of anything from a guitar signed by Rod Stewart to vintage Russian film posters. This would be a distinct category from “collectibles,” consisting of say, a matching set of Le Crueset cookware. Or the cookware might be filed under “status symbols, functional.” The point is that creating these specific categories will help you to remember each item and its location, which might be helpful when you are trying to arrange the Moroccan throw pillows in proper formation on the sofa after vacuuming.
Remember your credo: We are stewards. We are here for but a short time.
Remember too that the root of the word museum is muse – to cogitate, meditate, ponder. But keep your pondering within limits: it will not do to dwell too much on the beauty of the curated home, its heart-pine floors and antique wallpapers and stairwells wider than you are tall. Do not ruminate, comparing this home with your own, or any other future home you are likely to inhabit – you may find yourself dizzy on that stairwell, grasping the banister damply, thinking I will never have this, I will never have this, near tears. This will prevent you from performing your duties effectively, and is maudlin besides.
Everything will be easier if you love the Curator. Please note this does not mean a romantic or sexual love, which would be inappropriate. The Curator has power over you, yet is kind to you – the natural result of this is a tenderness of feeling that we may as well call love.
Remember that coffee filters work better than paper towels for cleaning the smudges from glass. Remember that fragile paper must be exposed to light as little as possible. Remember to store vinyl records vertically. Remember not to reveal how much you know about the Curator, even as you learn every corner of the home like the joints of your own body. Remember that you are permitted to ask for your wages, as long as you appear less desperate than you really are.
Remember that if you break something, as you inevitably will, you will have to admit it. Your failure will not anger him (or her – the Curator of course may be female but is so often male, and you reading this manual are so often not), although it is disappointment, not anger, you fear. Remember that, as the Curator will tell you, you are doing him a favor.
Michelle E. Crouch, a co-founder of APIARY Magazine(“Written by Humans”), has been published in the Indiana Review, Treehouse Magazine, and The Rumpus. She currently lives in Wilmington, NC. Her website is mcrouch.com.