Welcome to the first post in my new blog series: At Home. At first glance this might seem rather out of place on a blog about writing. Kindly note, however, that this blog is clearly about life. Soggy life, yes, true, but life. And part of life, for me, is making my living space a home. Not just a home, but a home for me.
A little backstory before we continue. Home is a difficult thing. Any child of an acoholic can tell you this. I’m not going to get in to the knitty nitty-gritty of life growing up in that sort of a situation. If you know what I’m talking about you don’t need me to tell you and if you don’t know what I’m talking about no words will ever be able to make you know. It’s ingrained. It becomes a part of you. Growing up, we had shelter. My parents (and the bank, but I didn’t know that then; I was a kid!) owned the house we lived in. Yes, there were financial troubles, but we never did end up on the streets. I’m not sure that matters. If you grow up with an alcoholic parent, you grow up with a sort of love-hate relationship with the concept of stability.
When I moved out into my first apartment, it never did seem to take on the feel of sanctuary I thought “home” should have. It was clean, it was uncluttered, it had the requisite dog, it had relatively quiet people with relatively quiet interests, but I still wasn’t able to feel completely comfortable. Years later when I moved in with Beth, it was a bit like moving back to my childhood home (that is, back into the most unstable times in my childhood home) only worse, because it wasn’t my dysfunctional family I had to contend with. At least with my dysfunctional family there was love and shared history. My belongings were packed away and until we emptied out the basement and created our temple room I pretty much had no breathing room for some time. I was thrown back into survival mode — and I don’t begrudge the time spent there, because Beth needed the support of someone who cared about her for her and her alone, to help her get out of that abusive place.
Three years ago, we moved into our first place together with just us, and it was great! And exhausting. The house wasn’t in good shape, but they let us rent it with our horde. We were exhausted from the move, and then there were health problems, and then, well, you know, the economy tanked and we were barely making ends meet . . .
And then the owners announced they wanted to sell the place. This brings us to here and now.
Here and now, Beth and I are living in our most favorite place ever. Yes, it came with heartache and sacrifice, but we know that the cats we re-homed are in great places and are utterly adored, we discovered that our remaining cats are insane and prefer less space rather than more space, and the dog is happy to be further away from the bear raccoons of our older neighborhood (we won’t mention the wild turkey sightings).
Downsizing wasn’t hard; we’d carved out the unnecessary stuff from our lives when we moved cross country, and our first place out here was rented furnished, so, we don’t even have that much by way of furniture: bookcases, a desk chair, a desk, a mattress, a feather-topper that serves as my bed (mattresses are too soft!) four folding tables, and two camp chairs. We had plans for a futon, but since the Corbie’s injury we’ve been on the fence with regards to that. We do want a flopping-and-reading place for the small living room, so those of us who are up late or get up early have a comfortable option for reading. We go back and forth between a low to the ground twin sized futon or throw pillows. The biggest ouch to downsizing was giving up shrine space for those we care about but who are not central to our daily lives. Photos and small shelves on the wall help with that.
Our plans for the furnishing of the house include: a free standing pantry. There are amble cabinets in this place, but between Beth’s herbal work and jewellery making, I’m already down to one three foot long shelf for food storage. The goal is to get her herbal supplies in easy-to-reach areas that will free up cabinet space so I can start exploring canning. We’re back and forth about living room seating, and I do want some sort of table in the kitchen. Not for eating meals, but rather for an additional writing space and, when the time comes, loom space!
Our home isn’t like most peoples homes. We don’t own a TV. We have shrines. Our bedroom has two mattresses, two spinning wheels and a dog crate. Our cabinets are over-run with herbs. We have one closet you can’t even get into for the veritable wall of fiber that will fall upon you. I can’t decide if I’d rather a second desk in the living room or that futon . . . and it’s my favorite living space by far. It is the one that says, “You are home.”
What is this series going to be about? Home-making. Reclaiming forgotten arts that I want to have not forgotten. The joys of cooking. The struggles of cooking. The joys of being home and finding sanctuary from the world at large. How important it is for you to define for you what your sanctuary space should be like — because it is. It’s your home; you decide what’s important. Period. I don’t really have any set goals for this beyond: I want to talk about it. That’s all.