Taking Up Space

My dear friend, Jo, has written a wee blog about her space. What it has been and what it has become to her now. It is good to think about your journey of homes. I think it helps you appreciate what you have as well as know what you would like. Thanks Jo!


My first apartment. A studio in a rough part of town (my brother would later tell me). A giant window overlooking the mountains and Sundays all to myself.  A kitchen stocked with 25-cent-garage-sale finds from my mom, with love.

A long skinny apartment with wide-open windows, two dogs out front, and a garden of vegetables in the back. Connected to a house owned by Mrs Barrett who is a force of love (to be reckoned with) and her husband, who prays each morning and is on dialysis each Thursday. The smell of jerk chicken in the air.

Eighth floor of a Soviet bloc apartment on the outskirts of the outskirts. Through rat infested stairwell to a spotless small apartment. Shared with a family of three. No running water. We made cakes every weekend while my handwashed-underwear hung on the open oven door to dry.

A room on top of a beautiful house right off the the high street. I owned that city.  A lavender plant on my window sill and the smell of summer in the air.

A shared space.  It wasn’t mine despite wanting it to be.

For a while now, I’ve collected spaces.  Spaces by the sea, in suburbs, in cities, borrowed spaces, extra rooms, high ceilings, low ceilings, balconies, dogs, on my own, with a boyfriend, not with a boyfriend, with strangers, with friends, desperate scrambled spaces and well-thought-out ones.

After all these adventures, I’ve recently unpacked my suitcase with certainty (something I have never done before). My space has become a home.  And not just the kind that I carry around deep in my soul (two checked bags and a carry on) but something I can unpack and put on the shelf.  

My style has always been borrowed (furniture left behind, spare bedrooms, making do with what you have).  I’m empowered that my home can represent me and all the experiences and spaces that make me who I am.  

I think a lot of it has to do with the wonderful man I have moved in with.  It is also that my cat (a survivor of a Russian invasion, four international flights, countless Georgian marshutka trips, propositions from strong Italian cats, and eleven moves in total) finally has the back garden adventures she deserves.

But as you do when moving in with someone you love, you find a gentle compromise (which doesn’t feel so gentle at first).  You learn to let go of things that at one point you thought were really important. But they aren’t.

So while we pick our curtains and light fixtures and negotiate wall space, there will certainly be buckets of irrational tears and anger over why things are stored there and not here (and the books on the floor will be on the floor for weeks longer). But I’m empowered by my collection of space and cities and countries. And while it may not be on my walls, I will carry them with me as I have always have. Besides, I think I’m ready to share.



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