Essay / Misc.


I have been on a relentless hunt for the perfect damask fabric to use in my bedroom. When my husband and I moved here from Washington, D.C. this past June, one of the first tasks we undertook was the careful placement of our furniture and household accessories to turn our new apartment into a home.

In the weeks that followed our arrival, we managed to organize and decorate our living room, dining room, kitchen, bathroom, and walk-in closet. We were careful to make sure that our apartment had a sense of “flow” and that the colors we used in each space complemented the colors we used in other spaces. We even located the perfect black candle to bring out the black-checked pattern in our shower curtain. Despite all of this intentional effort, our bedroom remains incomplete. I believe the solution to this deficiency is damask.

Thus damask — which Merriam-Webster tells me is a firm, lustrous fabric made with flat patterns in a satin weave on a plain-woven ground on jacquard looms — is my new obsession. I have been to countless retail stores looking at towels, placemats, shower curtains, bed sheets, tissue paper, wallpaper, even toilet paper trying to find the perfect pattern. In between teaching classes and mentoring students, I scour the internet looking for images of damask prints with just the right balance of size and color. I have even considered settling for an inferior damask just to be done with the whole project; however, the type-A tendencies that allowed me to succeed in law school will not allow me to make such a design concession.

Damask, a complex pattern, is just repeated simplicity. The simple lines and curves produced over and over create a beautiful whole.

I could say that my hunt for the perfect damask is like the search for a good church or like the significance of wrestling with a deep philosophical truth. I could compare damask to the complexity of the justice system or to the enormous task of choosing an administration after winning an election. I could argue that I should put the same effort that I have put into finding the right damask pattern into my spiritual journey as a Christian. I could say all of these things in an attempt to sound intellectual, spiritual, political, or deep.

But I won’t say any of these things. I’ll just let you “google” damask and think about it.

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