The Return of the Native: or domestic daydreams

by pieces of moments

So, I’m technically homeless. I have been for six months, now. Job loss (recessionrecessionrecession) will do that to you. In the past twelve months I have lived in three different cities. I have very little to complain about in being homeless and relocating a couple of times. I have never gone without anything I need, and frankly have been blessed to still have or experience things I simply want. Still, not having a room of one’s own begins to wear heavily. I love pretty things. I have lots of pretty things…

pretty teacups // pretty teapots // pretty two-hundred year old antique silver teaspoons // pretty etched glass bottles // pretty Wedgwood Jasperware (white on pale blue, naturally) // pretty milk glass vases // pretty vintage concert announcements ripped from vintage music magazines // pretty decorative plates from the Middle East // pretty brass coat hooks // a pretty wall hanging from Oxford University printed with the Bodleian Library pledge:

I hereby undertake not to remove from the Library, or to mark, deface, or injure in any way, any volume, document, or other object belonging to it or in its custody; not to bring into the Library or kindle therein any fire or flame, and not to smoke in the Library; and I promise to obey all rules of the Library.

Now they are all hidden in the darkness of plain brown boxes, and have been, and will be for a while longer.

Which, is kinda depressing to me since I’m hard wired for aesthetics.

This is true for meals as well. I think the lack of my own kitchen and dining table has accounted for the increased obsession with the blog Simply Breakfast. It’s a feast for the eyes, I tell you. In Boston, when I woke up with enough time to spare, I would cultivate the most elegant and luxurious breakfasts. They always involved a pretty cup of café crème (for what is breakfast without café crème?) and the reading of the (abridged) memoirs of Catherine II of Russia (Екатерина II Великая, “The Great”). The food varied, but usually involved the major components of a proper English breakfast (including tomatoes, yes). It always felt decadent and just, because what could be more just and right than seizing the start of the day for yourself before giving the rest of it up to the business world?

My inclination for the primary placement of the pleasurable is usually how I begin practicing, too. I play through my favorite pieces, sections, or measures, to wake up the various emotional centers of my being and claim them, embody them, give them a name, before picking them apart, tinkering, and perfecting.

Find beauty. That’s basically my mantra. I need to be surrounded by it.

It’s easy to find beauty in Boston. The city is dripping with it like an obscenely saturated sponge. In Washington, DC I had to make frequent trips to Georgetown to satisfy the brand of beauty for which I was starved (charming, historical, filigree, beauty). Now that I have returned home to the Midwest and am a re-resident of the “Windy City,” I am searching for my new beauty hotspots. The funny part has been realizing that I don’t know the city as I presumed I did, even though I lived here for four years as an undergraduate. Experiencing a city as a teenager into your young 20’s is entirely different than experiencing the same city 10 years later – and it is exactly 10 years as I entered my Chicago undergraduate years in 1999. I have a process of getting to know new cities that I am just now realizing I have not bothered with here because I assumed I would remember everything, but I don’t. So, I need to W.R.F:

  • Walk: I get to know the layout of cities by wandering on foot.
  • Read: Hey, I’m a researcher, so histories and maps are my two best friends when it comes to cities
  • Find: I’m a regular. I go to the same places, I adore the familiar. I need to establish my go-to spots for various needs (food, clothing, stationery, lotions, etc.)

I have moved enough times in my life now to know that it takes me a full 30 days to really acclimate to a new environment, no matter what, no matter where – nearly like clockwork. I’m currently in week three, and am starting to feel the shift this week from strange to familiar.

Now, to get all those pretty things out of the darkness of boxes and into the light of day…