The Blue Balloons

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly

It is perfect--all of it. The cushy chocolate leather chairs in the main cabin. The working searchlight from an old ship artfully hung to illuminate the game table in the guest house. The white dinnerware meticulously arranged with votives and fresh flowers on the outdoor dining table.

Exploring Monique Keegan's weekend retreat (for the Dcor feature in this issue) was like stepping into a picture book. There's no question why the fashion-designer-turned-interior-designer has made a name for herself not just in Central Ohio, but nationally as well. The charming getaway that she shares with her husband and 12-year-old son just outside of Granville is a sophisticated mix of simple elegance and intriguing surprise. Every last bit of anything is purposeful--no single vase, collected pinecone or pair of boots out of place.

But any sense of pretense disappeared between the main cabin and guest house, as, while we walked and chatted, Keegan started bending over to grab pieces of blue latex.

"Water balloon fight," she said, smiling.

The mental image of people launching water-filled balloons at each other in the middle this pristine-to-the-nth-degree property still makes me grin.

It's such a good reminder that in life--smack dab in the center of the perfection we are constantly striving to create--we need to occasionally stop and enjoy.

Just like runners, women tend to strive for no wasted motion. Runners, you see, consistently refine their movements so as not to waste any. Don't lift your knees too high; don't swing your arms too far. No wasted motion--that's the goal.

Don't we do that in life, too? Don't we pride ourselves on figuring out how to find that 25th hour in the day?

We grab lunch at 1 p.m. instead of noon to save the four minutes in line; continue conducting business on our cell phones while racing home from work; pick up dry cleaning; taxi kids; toss in laundry; change clothes; get to soccer game; check BlackBerry; start dinner; fold laundry; confirm Saturday's plans; hop on computer; eat dinner; thank God for a husband who washes dishes; zip to the grocery; serve snacks; pack kids' lunches; kiss everyone goodnight and--whew--start again. (We may also have watched Dancing with the Stars amid the chaos. And perhaps ogled over a pair of Stuart Weitzman shoes online. But that was for just a moment, right?)

The point is, we sometimes get so caught up in orchestrating it all that we forget why we're orchestrating it all. We need to remind ourselves to slow down. To have fun. (I also need to remind myself that nobody will ever hand me a golden trophy for never allowing a piece of clothing to be dirty for longer than 24 hours. But I digress.)

Let's face it: We can toil endlessly to make our own expanses in life picture-perfect, but if we can't occasionally run around in our bare feet launching water balloons like giddy children, what's the point?

So, as you flip through these pages, be inspired by the beautiful photos of Monique Keegan's home. But remember that the most important things are the broken pieces of latex you cannot see.

And make time in your life-in the middle of everything beautiful you rightfully work so tirelessly to build--to stop, set down the BlackBerry, skip the laundry and throw some blue balloons.