July 17, 2024

Roxane Gay on Why She Never Decorates

This month, she celebrated the release of her powerful new anthology, Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture (Harper Collins), and the rerelease of her short story collection Ayiti (Grove Atlantic) in June.

We asked her to share something she’s learned about herself from her living situations over the years. Here’s what she had to say. . . .

Author, professor, and editor Roxane Gay offers a just-telling-you-like-it-is realness that we’ve loved since the debut of Bad Feminist. (Seriously, if you don’t follow her on Twitter, you should! )

As told to Kristen Flanagan

The truth is that I never really decorate any of the homes that I live in.

Why? There are a couple of reasons. . . . Part of it is that I went to grad school, and I knew it was a finite thing. So I just thought, “Why bother? Who knows how long I’m going to be here. I can’t stand it here. Why bother? ” And then I got a faculty job, and I thought, “Oh, I don’t really want to be here. Why bother? ” And then even when I was living in a place by choice, I thought, “Why bother? I’m never home. When I settle down and I’m living with a partner, that’s when I’ll do something to my living space. ”

I just start over when I get to a new place. I bring all my books – always. And, what else do I bring? My clothes and some of my furniture. My electronics. I love my electronics. I do have things that matter to me. Little tokens and tchotchkes. Things that I care very much about that I bring with me from place to place. A painting my person, Bob, gave me of Fred Rogers.

Eventually, I think, “I should do something! ” And I’ll put a couple of things on the wall. I now split my time between Indiana and Los Angeles. I am actually trying to decorate my L. A. apartment because I do plan on settling there. I hung some art by a friend of mine who does beautiful work – his name is Casey Hannan. And I am really excited about that. My dad came to help me hang the piece. I can’t even tell you the amount of measuring and leveling he did! Because he’s an engineer, it was the most extreme form of hanging things that I’ve ever seen.

But I never paint. Nothing too permanent. There’s nothing for me to really be attached to in my living spaces. It’s not a forever thing. It’s always, “Let’s wait until I have the future I want and then make it home. ” I would like to change that mind-set, but, you know, I’m working on one thing at a time.

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