My first experience with the dizzying world of lighting was at age 16, when my parents bought an aging English Tudor home to replace their three bedroom ranch. Though my thoughts were firmly centered on more exciting subjects like boys, the Beatles, and talking on the phone, I was conscripted to venture where no young girl would go of her own accord: a lighting supply store.
The shop was blinding, hot, and chaotic. Crammed from floor to ceiling with everything from sparkling chandeliers to lava lamps, it was a fun house on steroids, the kind of fun only a new homeowner could enjoy–and I was not. I wandered. I craned. I cringed. Although I am sure my mother emerged from the experience with many things crossed off her “to do” list, what I remember is getting my first headache, an affliction I was advised I was too young to have.
My tender soul was no doubt scarred for life by my initial dip into home improvement, yet my early reaction has softened in proportion to my acquisition of homes, focus, and shopping skills. To cull, I have learned, is to conquer, at least when it comes to lights.
Recently, I had an idea what light I wanted, plus an electrician who could install immediately, so I logged on for some quick, virtual shopping. The sites were overstuffed with details; I gave up and called a store. Twenty minutes later, I knew a little about the complications of low voltage, and lots about the clerk’s saga with her own 1890s home.
Perhaps this confirms my teenaged suspicion that even the clerks are being driven mad locked up in those lighting stores, and will gladly talk with anyone to get a grip on reality outside their hyper-brilliant emporiums. More likely, home ownership generates conversation much as angling spawns fish stories. Caught up in worlds of our own making, it is lovely to find that unexpected bridge.