"I'm gonna sing this song
To let you know that you're not alone
And if you're like me you need hope, coffee, and melody"
- New Day, by Robbie Seay band
I've been thinking about how I've set up a life here in Ecuador which is likely not permanent. My roommate and I just had our apartment painted, something we've wanted to do for some time. The living room is a blue-grey, the dining room is pale yellow, and the upstairs landing area is a pale sage green. I love it, while knowing that eventually I'll have to leave it. Other parts of this life which have been established which will have to be left behind include work and friends and favorite spots (parks, coffee shops, restaurants) and favorite traditions which come from living in another culture. Yet specifically I'm thinking about setting up an apartment: all the physical things which fill and help make a home.
I won't have the option to bring with me the window seats, bed, and multi-drawer cabinet I picked out at a local furniture market. I'll have to leave the large desk I bought from a friend. It's possible the afghan I spent ages crocheting will be too heavy to bring, needing to be jettisoned along with a slew of other items.
However there are a few things which already I imagine packing careful into my suitcases. I have a set of dishes I hope to bring: white with paint streaks of color dashing across them, and the French word for each color on the artists pallet painted in swirling script. I saw this set and fell in love. So I hope to bring them, any future damage not withstanding. Thus, upon moving back to the US and once again setting up an apartment in Texas, I will have clothes and shoes, various odds and ends both collected and gifted, enough books to set up as temporary furniture (some with me though boxes upon boxes kindly stored in my parents bodega), and a set of dishes for four. Also a French press. Throw in a frying pan and I have breakfast covered! I can even picture the shopping trip to get one: weighing the pros and cons of grabbing a cheap pan to make due versus investing in one, or a set, which could very well last me forever and a day. I know, you may be thinking, Why are you focusing on something as small as a frying pan when you'll have a whole home to furnish? Bird by bird, darling. One piece at a time.
On my wall is a painting of a girl looking out at the ocean. Her hands are clasped behind her back and her hair and dress are being gently tugged by the ocean breeze. Yet my favorite part of the painting is that actually, the girl is not the focus, the ocean is. The painting is huge, stretching six feet long and about two and a half feet high. The ocean spreads to the very edges of the canvas and away while the girl looks out, surely enchanted by the vastness, power, and beauty. On my wall it's like a window, and I have every intention of taking the canvas off of the frame, carefully removing each staple from the back, then rolling it up to have it re-stretched onto a new frame and hung on some future wall in a hypothetical home. Because what home can feel empty when you have a window to the ocean?
My head thinks practicality, while my hearts yearns for beauty. Between the two there is usually a satisfactory middle ground.
I'm writing this in bed, typing clumsily on my smartphone because my computer is in the living room, my notebook is in the dining room and honestly I didn't think the stray idea I wanted to jot down would come pouring out of me like this. I look around and think how I've had many homes, yet I'm not a nomad or gypsy. I set down roots, I gather branches and build a nest I hope to be satisfied with for years or merely months, whichever finds me first. I can't plan exactly what will happen next. I can only dream that maybe the future will still hold a French press, books, a paint pallet dishes set, and a painting of the ocean. Though even if none of these things make it, it'll be okay. There are always other things, just waiting to be found, used, loved, and turned into a home.