Smart Broken

News for nerds

When my boyfriend and I moved into our own flat, we were congratulated on our “new chapter”. I didn’t get it: we’d already been living together for several years in a shared place, so the move seemed more like a minor upgrade. It turns out that everyone was being vague about what this chapter actually is. Which is understandable: “Congratulations on opening your new chapter of arguing about what mundane crap you need to buy” is far too long for a card.

Rug underlay, a jigsaw, a storage thing to put another thing in – products with dozens of versions available and thus requiring research to make the “right” choice. I had no idea starting a new chapter with my great love would feel quite so much like a public-sector organisation tendering for a water cooler.

The issue, I now realise, was our understanding of how to get to “right”. I’d say it can’t be “right” if it pushes a person to the edge of sanity, and finds them praying to “Audre, Emmeline, Virginia and other feminists in heaven” to be forgiven for opting out of the evening’s equal financial decision-making. Whereas he’d say we must “respect the process” to avoid disappointment.

But the only way to ever get it properly right is to get it properly wrong. As we were reminded last week when the shelves we’d put up – a process involving multiple conversations with shelf purveyors, and weeks of researching the various parts, from paint finishes to brackets – collapsed with a bang.

There is a reason “trial” and “error” are put together. We can’t have one without the other: taking advice from others is valuable, but it cannot match the learning power of personal failure.

So I tell myself not to take each purchase so seriously, and maybe even take a chance sometimes. Getting it disastrously wrong? That’s all part of the process.