My Weekend at (Actual) Home

Although I love spending time at my Boston “home,” there’s nothing quite like coming back to your hometown and spending time with family and friends. As soon as I could, I had planned a long weekend back to Virginia at the end of September – partly to get my fall and winter clothes and figure out how to move up the rest of my stuff, and partly because America’s First Region is a rockin’ place to be and I (usually) genuinely enjoy it.

The mini-vacation was pretty much perfect: about 4.5 days spent sleeping in, reading, watching TV, and enjoying time with my best friends who still live in the area.

Including a shopping trip with this lil' lady wearing one of the most attractive dresses either of us had ever seen.

Including a shopping trip with this lil’ lady wearing one of the most attractive dresses either of us had ever seen.

A few very important things also came to light. While going through boxes of my belongings, my friend Jenny and I stumbled upon my old elementary school yearbooks and delighted in finding the photos of our friends, namely this classy broad:

Luckily she's married now, so you can rest assured that she has found love.

Luckily she’s married now, so you can rest assured that she has found love.

We also discovered, while flipping through my 4th grade yearbook, that I literally cut out the picture and name of someone a grade older than me. Who did I obliterate with such a vengeance?! We cross-referenced it with my 3rd grade yearbook where I cut out this lad’s picture again but this time left the name. I have honestly no memory about why I cut out this person’s picture (who I knew well in high school, but have no younger memory of him). Was it hate or love? As Catullus says, “Odi et amo.  Quare id faciam, fortasse requiris. Nescio. Sed fieri sentio et excrucior.” Amirite? (I’ve really just been looking for an excuse to include Latin in my blog, you guys. But it’s true.) Either way, I was clearly a very passionate little kid. I also violently scribbled out the names of my enemies and starred my friends. Even back then, I was apparently keeping a Grudge/Revenge/Dead to Me list.

Most importantly, I got to spend some lovely time roiling about in confusion. I naturally vacillated between the feeling of utter contentment in this home of mine and fear that I would crumble when I returned to Boston, and excitement about getting back to Boston and continuing to unpack my life and get everything set up. I am well known for taking transitions poorly; when I went to music camp for the first year (I AM SO COOL), I had such a nervous breakdown after the first week my parents had to bring me home. To be fair to me, I was only 12 and went back every year after that for the full length of time, but still. I’ve had many other instances since then where I have struggled against changes in my life and wanted to go back to what is familiar. That’s why I have been so surprised at my relatively smooth life I’ve established in Boston – no nervous breakdowns yet! (minus one in the middle of the Boston Commons, but that was partly related to TJ Maxx and hanger). I don’t know if it’s because I am lucky enough to have good friends who live there, I’ve moved so often and I’ve grown up enough to handle it, or I’ve spent so little time in one place for the last year that I’ve fooled myself into thinking it’s only temporary. Either way, I’m nervous as all get out to go back and see what will be different, and if I will be different.

Nothing to do but just jump in though, right?

If only I could bring the Gabsters...

If only I could bring the Gabsters…

Advertisements

My Weekend at Home

I recently spent a weekend at what I secretly consider to be my “home” in Boston. Yes, I have my own home (both the one I physically live in now and the one my parents inhabit), but we all have those places that we consider to be our comfortable little oases that allow us to escape from real life for a bit. I absolutely consider my house in Virginia to be one of those oases, and I recently bumped up the house of my good friends here to be another.

This will probably surprise them since I haven’t told them how much I adore being at their house, but it is the perfect mix of physical comfort and emotional support for me (both the house and the people within it). When I first arrived to Boston, this was the house that I slept in for my initial three weeks. And it is a wonderful place to start: gorgeous, sun-drenched apartment with a balcony and all the comforts of home (including CABLE! A rarity for twenty-somethings). I loved coming back to the serenity of their home, talking with them about my day and sitting down in front of the TV to watch Jeopardy. It immediately felt comfortable, and comforting to someone in the turmoil of a transition. I am exceptionally fortunate to have two wonderful friends of mine living there.

Alas, it is apparently not really acceptable for someone not involved in the relationship to live with a married couple. Even though we make an exceptional team. And so I reluctantly moved to a sublet in August (and had a meltdown a few days later in the middle of Boston Common, partially due to leaving my paradise), and then to my leased apartment in September. But due to a fortuitous series of circumstances, I found myself back at my little slice of heaven with two of my favorite people for the weekend sandwiched in between my August and September place. It was a bit of a stayvacation: I enjoyed a delicious meal of beef bourguignon, indulged in an IKEA shopping trip with Katie, and treated my hosts to a wine and cheese party. (This was entirely done because I decided I wanted to be fancy and have a wine and cheese party a la the incomparable Mo at Mocadeaux, and they were the only friends I could think of who would indulge me. And have cheese knives. That I gave them for their wedding.)

Not to brag, but this is why you should come visit me.

Not to brag, but this is why you should come visit me.

And so on that Sunday I once again packed up my belongings to move to a new house, away from my “home.” Luckily, I’m less than ten minutes walking away from my oasis. You can bet I will be there often to enjoy the calm and the company of my favorites.

It almost looks like they are toasting their concocting an evil plan, does it not?

It almost looks like they are toasting their concocting an evil plan, does it not?

Merry Allston Christmas!

Santa Clause

It’s September 1 and you know what that means: it’s Christmas! At least in Allston, Mass, one of the many cute little Boston neighborhoods  and home to a million zillion college students and young professionals.

More than anywhere else I have lived (i.e. DC), Boston is a September 1 move-in date kinda place. Check out Craigslist at any point between March and July, and 90% of the postings will be for a September 1 start. Contrast this to DC, where most of the CL posts are for either RIGHT THEN or the first of the month immediately coming up, and you’ve got a move-in date where half the city is out of the streets hauling boxes in and out. I’m not exaggerating when I say 10,000 people move on that day in this little area. It’s been described to me as “rats coming up from the sewers and taking over the streets.” I’ve heard that the population of Boston area grows 3/4 of a million after September 1. Someone is making a WEBSERIES about it. Needless to say, there’s a whole lot going on.

Enter Allston Christmas, the most wonderful time of the year when so many people are moving that the sidewalks are overflowing with free, discarded stuff. An excerpt from a marvelous poem on boston.com:

They warn that from the refuse trouble could fly,
When that nuisance makes a new home, it may multiply.
So bright orange stickers warn residents to avoid the debris,
The rubbish could be full of bedbugs, even a flea.

But still there are those who ignore what crews advise,
For they are desperately in need of cheap, new supplies.
They’ll poke their head in whatever’s around,
Down the streets and alleys they will abound.

They’ll be drenched all in sweat, from head to foot,
And their clothes will be tarnished with stains and soot.
A sofa or mattress flung over their back,
They might look like a sad sight, but misery they lack.

Their eyes — how they’ll twinkle! Their dimples how merry!
For each has just become a proud beneficiary.
A new table, TV, even a guitar,
They’ll have saved some bucks to spend at the bar.

I tried my best to avoid the worst parts of Allston Christmas – i.e. moving – by moving my stuff into my apartment a few days early. So come this September 1, you’ll see me scavenging on the street for the next great piece of apartment furniture. As long as it’s not upholstered, because that’s gross. Buy new.

One Year

One year ago to the day, I was living in London. I had arrived to find my apartment would be in a student residence hall flat, making me the lucky recipient of three single beds and residence hall issue starchy sheets (not that I am one to look a gift rent-free apartment in posh South Kensington in the mouth…).  I remember emailing my mother photos of my apartment to have her sternly reprimand me, “You need to put something on that blank wall behind your couch! Make it more homey.” She knows me as only a mother can; I am quite the homebody and I eagerly flip through the pages of each month’s Real Simple magazine, envisioning ways to embrace my inner interior design goddess self. In stores, I often find myself wandering dreamlessly down the kitchenware and storage solution aisles and contemplate the purchase of those teeny frying pans that contain the picture of a sunny-side up egg.

I have to wonder, why do I do these things? I could wax poetic about the ever-changing world and how we crave to create stability where possible. I may not be able to understand what my government does with my privacy, how my coworkers will take to me, or why it never rains when I prepare for the forecast by wearing my rainboots. But at least I can come home to a space uniquely mine, that I have created out of thin air, that is my source of constancy.

One year ago, I arrived in a place that would be mine for a short four months. Despite the length of time, I endeavored to create home where I could: I purchase cheap throw pillow, I put pictures up on the walls.

But four months disappear in a flash, and soon I was donating those throw pillows as I prepared for a life of travel in the spring. There is perhaps no less stable life than that of a traveler; I moved from guesthouse to hostel to hotel, sometimes staying for two weeks but sometimes staying for one night. Whenever possible, I unpacked my meager belongings into the dresser in my room, eager to find some semblance of home.

Now it is one year later from my little apartment with three beds in a basement in London. I have arrived in a place that will be my home – is my home? It’s difficult for me to tell if it is still to happen or if I am living it now. For someone so eager to find a place of comfort and solitude, I have still retained my vagabond ways. Even when moving from one temporary place to another before I arrive at my permanent (at least for a year) residence, I have added touches of me: picture frames on the nightstand, a comforter with a flower on it. I can at least claim this six square foot bed as my own, my place, my comfort. And then finally, finally, one year later, I will arrive in my home. I will buy a bouquet of bright flowers from the farmer’s market and place them in a mason jar on top of my bookshelf (all of these items are still imaginary, by the way). I will print out pictures from my travels and hang them on my walls – I’ve already perfectly pictured which ones will go where. I will fill my apartment with the smell of pies, and embrace being still for once. And perhaps then I will be presently present in my home.

How to finally nest (ish)

For someone who loves stability, I have been remarkably without a home for the past year+. I’ve thankfully always had a roof over my head and a bed(ish) to sleep in, but since I moved out of my last actual abode in May 2012, I’ve slept in – count em – twenty nine different beds/homes. The largest chunks of my time involved spending July 2012 in Boston (where I got to experience wonderful university housing beds – it was so uncomfortable I honestly had to go buy a foam padding thing from BBB the next day cause I’m a princess), August-December 2012 in London (another time spent in university housing, except I funnily enough had three single beds to call my own. I like to be crazy!), and April-July 2013 in the parental dwelling (where I stubbornly refused to give up my first comfy bed in a year unless it was to a worthy elder).

Needless to say, I’m pretty excited to finally – FINALLY! – be able to unpack my bags for the final, foreseeable time, and unwrap my belongings that have been in storage since last May.

Alas and alack, we are not at that point yet. My first two months in Boston are consisting of me living with two very good friends of mine (it’s an awesome Three’s Company/Big Love kind of situation, except not actually) and then a month-long sublet with a rando who I literally agreed to live with because she laughed at my jokes and didn’t seem murdery. The person moving out (from whom I am subletting) has two cats and I was a inch away from saying, “…but can the cats stay?” I HAVE CAT NEEDS, PEOPLE.

How I inserted myself in with my friends/roomies/hosts, the married couple. I think they find me adorable

How I inserted myself in with my friends/roomies/hosts, the married couple. I think they find me adorable

Anyway. Come September 1, I have a home again! Where I actually live, and pay rent! And not sketchy back-alley rent but a rent attached to a lease! (At least, I think so. The property manager just scribbled out the name of my friend, since I’m taking over her lease, and handwrote mine in. I got panicked that the Boston Public Library wouldn’t accept that as a viable proof of residency and did some questionably-legal things to get that library card, but that’s a story for another day).

In the meantime, I have this whole nomadic thing down to a science. The basic rules:

  • When feeding off the teets of a friend’s generosity (yup), be sure to leave secret signs of yourself around the house. If you are staying with a married couple, even better! See above.
  • Never assume a plate is microwave-safe.
  • You haven’t really worn out your welcome until you’re accidentally blown the fuses in your nomadspot
  • There is no sadder thing than to excitedly unpack your backpack into a dresser of your week-long home, only to find that your three shirts don’t exactly need five drawers.
  • I like to believe I can sleep in most places, but I at least need a window. And wifi. And high standards of living. JUST KIDDING I really just need a window. Windowless rooms are the pits.
  • Laundry is for fancymen, and ain’t nobody got time for that. If it is not visibly dirty or have a five-foot-smell radius, it’s fine.
  • When you do have to get your laundry sent out since you don’t have a home and obviously don’t have a laundry machine, assume that something will get stolen/lost, and it will probably be the t-shirt present you got from your mom less than a month ago
  • Bedbugs aren’t that scary, you guys. Man up.
  • Most important one: you never realize how powerful your friendships are until you are in the wandering state of moving. I have relied on the kindness of several friends just to get me up to Boston, including and not limited to: a friend driving me to the airport, her wonderful parents taking my bags in their car since it wouldn’t fit in hers,  friends graciously hosting me immediately upon my arrival, a friend offering to lend me a sofa bed when I realized my August sublet option would only be an air mattress, and another friend sourcing a real bed for me to borrow and, without asking, volunteering to help me move it.

As much as I love traveling, I seriously can’t wait to stretch into a new joint and start nesting, y’all. Mainly because I picked up a blanket from the store that I proclaimed I loved more than my current hostess, and she threw it on the floor in anger. It’s a really good blanket.

(A week later, after she had accidentally had five limoncellos at dinner with her family, she came home and sheepishly told me the blanket was really good.)