Not much is going on in our household these days. Well, a lot is going on…job hunting, discussions about the future, daily life with a child…but nothing of note for the blog.
So I started going through old photos to post and talk about when I came upon one of my all-time favourites from about two years ago.
Does this photo ever bring back memories.
But what it really made me think of is a topic I’ve been contemplating ever since we made the decision to get rid of 9/10ths of our possessions and move to Europe. How important is stuff? (And more to the point, how the hell do these Europeans live in such tiny quarters and still seem relatively happy and sane??)
One blogger I’m following wrote about her perspective on stuff, which was forever shifted when she had to move because of a good-old New York infestation of bed bugs and had to leave behind anything that couldn’t be boiled or sterlized. The subheading is: “Know this: You could dump everything if you had to.” Very true words, Ms. Trunk.
The metaphor I’ve come up with for my own changed perspective on stuff is The Price is Right. On pretty much every show there was at least one prize package with several trips to amazing places around the world, and one that was furniture. I remember very clearlyÂ thinking, “Go for the furniture! A trip is over after a week, but a couch lasts forever!!” I was disdainfully condescending when an over-the-top-excited contestant picked the trips. The idiot.
Now? I would pick the trips every time. Well, that is what I was thinking the last while, until I really looked at this picture. The sun-mottled room, a view of the backyard, somewhere to put a piano. It just seems so lovely, so inviting.
So somewhere in there is a balance I have yet to achieve. I know that my perspective on stuff vs. experience has shifted way, way over to the experience side. And I’m happy about that. Deeply grateful, actually, that the world has offered me this opportunity to understand the value of learning a new language or trying to talk to a classmate from the Congo or simply standing in a city center that was imagined and designed and built a thousand years ago.
And yet right now I’m longing to walk through IKEA and pick out couches and new kitchen utensils and brightly coloured children’s furniture. I’m longing for a home.
My definition of the perfect home has changed significantly the last two years…it is certainly much smaller and more practical in my mind. But it is still beautifully appointed, has a tiny garden to play and relax in, is sunny and, most importantly, has a view. Of mountains or water or trees or anything that draws my eyes through the window to the bigger world.
I’m sure there are several reasons why Europeans (in this part of Europe anyway) can happily live in small, aesthetically beautiful homes. For one thing, their relatives had much, much less only a short time ago, and also there is less space here so there is no pressure to keep up with the neighbours since almost no-one has a huge home. But I also think it is because “home” is just one reference point in a large life of vacations to foreign countries and hikes up mountains and endless city festivals and good wine in a neighbourhood restaurant.
And so as the world serves up another very big and unknown change in my life in the next few months, I will focus on achieving that balance between possessions and experiences, wherever in the world I might land.