Tuesday, January 29, 2013

"Home Improvement"

I'm still in the process of figuring out what turns a place into home.

Now I'm supposing that moving into a house with someone and doing bunches of decorating and furniture shopping for it together is an altogether different scenario.  That will happen down the road, I hope, but for now I'm on a bit of a different quest: turning my apartment (for one) into home.

After college graduation, I was lucky enough to be able to move out on my own right away.  But since then, conditions haven't been quite ideal for really nesting into a place.  For one, I've ended up moving once a year - and while diagramming new furniture arrangements is actually quite fun, any roots I've put down in that place (both indoors and the surrounding neighborhood) get abruptly pulled back up again.

Secondly and more importantly, though, is the feel of a room when I'm in it.  When I think of a home, I think of coziness, peace, warmth.  I want to feel it is a place I could bring together people who are important to me, as well as a place for my own time.

Through noticing the lack of some of these features, I've begun to sense how strongly the decor inspires the feel of the room.  And I use 'decor' in the broadest sense; for me, it is mainly the furniture.  For quite awhile, my collection felt horribly mismatched - bright college dorm colors clashed with a gray-green couch inherited from a prior roommate and the beautiful dark wood of the bedroom pieces with which I grew up.  While I've appreciated not having to pay for a whole new set of furniture to fill my apartment, together they didn't create a comfy atmosphere, an environment that invited me to feel settled.  And oddly enough, it bugged me that the collection was obviously in transition from typical college dorm items.  I guess I do have some adult instincts after all. :)

In my latest apartment I'm happy to have taken a few steps closer to these goals.  My parents recently gave me a very nice living room lamp and I'm just in love with it.  Paired with a brilliant new furniture arrangement by my mom, I now have that cozy feeling in my living area.  (Well, mostly - I wouldn't mind replacing this couch at some point.)  Often now I can't help lighting a candle to accompany me through my quiet evening activities, as there's something special to me about its warmth and flickering glow.

Smaller things make big differences too.  A few paintings and a clock decorate the living room walls; a set of colorful cloth coasters is scattered about on tabletops.  My parents also brought me my bed comforter from home, for which I traded the neon green and blue one I'd used in college.  It gives my bedroom a soft lightness and even complements the colors of the curtains.

I still have a ways to go, I know.  But even if my current apartment won't be where I'll live forever, I'm happy to be finding out what makes it really feel like my home.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

a New Year's night, part 1

On my first ever - to my recollection - New Year's Eve alone, I take a first sip of the one treat I have given myself. Sharp, with the softest hint of sweetness, its warmth sizzles in my lips and tongue for long, delicious seconds. For months I have been awaiting my next chance to taste this spirit, all the while singing its praises to any friend who will listen, and now, it is just as special as I had remembered.

I think of my past New Year's Eves: many were spent with my family in the living room of our house, watching Dick Clark's traditional show, and laughing when we found out how old the champagne my dad dug out of the cabinet was that year. Then we lounged on the couches, catching up on popular music for the next hour and a half or so, until we all got tired enough to go to sleep - perhaps each with our own musings about how we'd make this year different and better.

From the next apartment over come many sounds of celebration. I receive periodic updates by text message from my boyfriend about the party at which I had intended to join him, until I had realized how completely exhausted I was at the end of the day. Now after the little webcast of the ball dropping in New York City is over, I sit, feeling very quiet. Feeling like I'm waiting, but not quite sure for what.

I take this moment as a time to let the thoughts really come to me, about not only 2012, but where I am, and who I am.

I think of my parents. I have become very much more appreciative of them in the months of late. How blessed I am to have their pure, joyful, total love. Of course, this meant so very much as I was growing up, but even now, when I am living many miles away, they are always, always there for me. They still want to do anything they can to help take care of me.

I think of the crazy experience of making decisions to change not only my job, but practically my whole life by moving to DC. I remember the fears that made me take action. I remember the moments of panic. I remember not knowing what would come next, the sense of following a path of opportunities unknown and changing every single day, the excitement and allure of big new Life Things. I remember the people who helped me along the way; those I didn't know, and the friends that I did, who held me in hugs, listened to my fears and wonders, gave me advice and encouragement.

Deciding to avoid the conclusion that being alone tonight is a sign that my life is lonely, I think of those who love me. My family. They surrounded me with love, whether intentional or not at any particular moment, for a whole week just past. Having that environment to return to is so beautiful. My dear friends and the dance community... those who welcome me with warm hugs, who tell me "you have to come back to Philly!", who invite me to events, who share moments, and passions, laughter, and life.

I think, as well, of my own imperfections. I know that I've long needed to patch myself up in terms of some pretty basic elements of life. Much of it comes down to some common threads: taking care of myself, and just getting things done. Though I have some deeply set habits that oppose these goals, I can feel it that if I work on them, I will truly make myself happier, more comfortable, less stressed. So what can I do? I figure I'll work on tactics for putting things into motion; or even throw plans to the wind and just start doing little things towards making bigger changes.

Here's to it all!