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A Room of My Own

I just moved. ...Again. Risk averse, I am not. Afraid of change, not me.

After years of embracing change, sometimes thinking that I thrive on chaos, I have learned that change has its advantages- and some disadvantages.

Looking at the world through a different lens can be, literally, eye opening. It’s like sitting on one side of the room and never noticing that the pictures behind me are crooked- until I move my chair and sit on the other side of the room.

A clearer view

Moving has its own special positive consequences. All those things stashed in drawers and in the back of closets come to light and I can decide- is this the time I am ready to get rid of the precious summer souvenir that I got from, where was it? I may delude myself into believing that I just love it, or that I may need to use it sometime in the future. The reality is, though, both of those illusions are just that—illusions. If I loved it and/or needed it, I wouldn’t be keeping it tucked away in a far away corner.

In the meantime, however, I get to do a bit of a reminiscing retrospective. remembering the terrific trip, that remarkable relationship, or that tumultuous time in my life. I can track how much I have changed- or not. I can gain a new vantage point on those events and put them into perspective. Maybe they weren’t as significant as I thought they were, given where I am now in my life; or maybe they really were life changing. Now, I may be able to see, from a distance now, how that one event led to others and my life has been significantly shaped by that turn of events; or rather, I, not the events, made the decisions and created the path. No matter, the review, through pictures, journals, collections and clipping offers me the opportunity for self-reflection.

The challenge of change

I have to admit, though, that change does have some disadvantages, especially as I get older. I can’t tell you how many times I have had to wander through the house checking where I put the measuring tape, or the flashlights or the batteries- THIS time around. Every house is different, with extra space in different sections of the house. My memory just isn’t what it used to be!

Then there is the issue of re-orienting myself. Where is the best grocery and cleaners? How do I get to my doctor from this part of town and what are my neighbors like? The changes can be stressful and sometimes confusing.

The biggest disadvantage, however, is the most subtle; and it is a bit difficult to describe. Every time I move I have to create a new sense of HOME. Creating a space that is MINE, with the comforts of home, takes time, ingenuity, and patience. It isn’t easy to know what elements make a house feel like home.

I know some of what goes into that sense of “home”. I need to have my favorite things around me: a teddy bear in the bedroom, an old friend of a novel on the shelf, a picture of my family on a table and my worn out frying pan in the kitchen. Those favorites are an odd collection, many of which I really couldn’t articulate if you asked me. I do know, however, how itchy I feel when they aren’t there.

Other more abstract elements are even harder to explain. I need to be able to sit in a chair and feel comfort, which includes not just the chair, but the chairs around me and the pictures on the walls before me. I need to see light coming in from some windows and I need some color that makes me smile. I love having a section, somewhere, that is beautifully organized and I must be able to sit outside and read. These are the “must haves” that I can articulate. The others are equally important, yet I don’t have the words to describe them.

And that is the main disadvantage of moving: creating a sense of home with only an intuitive path to go by. I know when I have arrived, yet, have no clear map to get there. When something is as important as a place called “home”, I wish a guidebook existed. Instructions would make the process of creation much easier.

My joy right now is that this house does feel like home. I feel so lucky to have arrived here. I think I have learned some things over the years- about the world and more importantly, about myself. I’ve learned what works and what doesn’t. I have learned to be patient and to keep working at it until I get where I want to be. I have learned to let go of things I don’t need and to trust that a different path can get me “home” as well as the old familiar way. Most importantly, I have learned, as Roald Dahl said, “Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it." I found it at home.

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