8.10.2014

saving up for linen sheets

unmade bed with white cotton sheets

My whole life, I've been horrible at making decisions. Decisions are stressful and take me forever. If I did X, then probably Y, but possibly Z, and what about A, B, C, and F? Boyfriends would roll their eyes and tap their feet or check their phones or whatever it is people do while waiting for others: Can't you just make up your mind?

It's not usually that I don't know what I want because I pretty much always know what I want when it comes to material things; it's that what I want is usually the most expensive or difficult or risky thing—champagne tastes on a beer budget and all that. (And I'm not good with risk, either, though I'm working on it because trying and failing is far better for the human spirit than never trying. Just ask Emily Dickenson.) So the decisions are typically among lesser compromises, and who really ever likes compromising? My indecisions are in large part because, being relatively poor, I must live with the consequences longer than people with more money who can just re-swipe the debit card after a regretted decision, and also that because I'm picky (read: perfectionistic), I want to make "the right choice," as if there were only one. The hardest decision, though, is often stepping back and choosing patience.

Here's an example. A houseguest (meaning my sister) will be staying at my small apartment for one or two nights at the end of this month for an extended-family event. Even more stubborn than me, she is refusing to "take [my] bed" and says she'll either sleep on the sofa or floor. I said by text, "No, take my bed." She replied, "Then I'll just sleep in my car." (And in case you're wondering why we don't just share my queen-sized bed, she emphatically won't and hasn't for years for reasons unknown.) This silly situation is causing me more stress than it should. I'd rather she just slept in my bed, on freshly washed sheets, while I pulled out my sleeping bag. She has back problems from a long-ago car accident, and I don't, so why shouldn't she take the damn bed? It's not like I have a spare guest room to offer. Good hosts give up their beds, right? I have a thick vintage military sleeping bag, and I can sleep on the floor fine, no problem. But no. She insists on the sofa or floor.

But then I remembered that I donated my spare set of sheets a while back, after they'd gotten dingy. (Why own dingy sheets?) I do own a spare silk comforter with matching pillow shams (thrifted inexpensively) but no spare sheets. Okay, so my first thought was to do what I've always done when I needed new sheets: head to T.J. Maxx or Marshall's for a discounted department-store sheet set. (Sheets, socks, and underwear are things I won't buy secondhand, for bodily-fluid reasons.) So I did the usual thing. On the way home from work the other night, I bought a set of imported Ralph Lauren 100% cotton white sheets from T.J. Maxx for $50, which, for someone who thrifts almost everything she owns, is a good chunk of money, even when the sheets last for years. But then I had second thoughts, my conscience nagging.

What I really want, if money were no object, is a set of handmade pure linen sheets, white and flat and simple, from a small producer in Marin, California—Tricia Rose's Rough Linen. I love linen, from curtains to shirts to jackets to skirts to handkerchiefs to napkins to throws. And, though the logical part of me would choose undyed linen for its natural color shading, ecological superiority, and greater strength (and to better hide cat hair), my heart still wants white bedding, which visually is like sleeping on a cloud.

But linen is expensive, especially Belgian linen, meaning a single Queen flat sheet from Rough Linen is $160, pillow slips are $42 each, and the least expensive duvet cover is $350. Ouch! Cheaper mass-produced Asian-imported linen sets—the standard American flat sheet, fitted sheet, and two cases—can be found online for around $200, as at CB2 or currently on sale at Restoration Hardware, but reviewers claim the Rough Linen product is superior. And if you're already spending that much on sheets, why not go all out for the real thing?

So I returned the cotton discount sheets. I shouldn't be spending unnecessarily right now, anyway. Better to save up for what I really want, which quite honestly would last the rest of my life—patient, biding time. (And seriously, why didn't I think to just pull out the big quilted gray silk comforter for the weekend and skip the sheets?)


What are you willing to save for?

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