Periodically I forget that my environment matters to me. "I can live anywhere!" I think, and I sign up to live in a place that is tiny, or dirty, or damp. Sometimes I sign up to live with people who turn out to be unpleasable, and I spend months trying to keep them happy, to no avail.
After all, I lived in a tukul in South Sudan, right? I lived in a bedroom the size of a king-sized bed in New York. I can live anywhere!
It's true, in the short term. I can live anywhere. But I can't live anywhere and be happy.
Places where I have been happiest in my living situation:
- My house on the lake in Rwanda, where I could make myself toast and tea every morning and eat it out on the stone patio, looking out over the water.
- My apartment in Gone West Round #1, that over-sized hotel room that was all mine, with a short wall of southwest-facing windows.
- My duplex in Universe City, with the deck looking out over the trees and the city.
I notice two trends here: pretty, and alone.
I had a roommate in Universe City, sort of. But after about six months, she functionally moved in with her boyfriend, and I didn't see her again for a year. I'm not kidding. She did not sleep in the house for a year. I knew when I went home that I was going home to an empty house, and it was glorious. (Then I got a new roommate, but by then the place felt like mine.)
After a fairly miserable year in Gone West Round #2, in a house that smelled like cat pee and wasn't very welcoming at all, and four months of mooching on the good graces of friends in Gone West Round #2.1, I moved into an apartment on Sunday.
It's a sublet. I may have to leave at the end of August when the guy who lives here gets back from a summer of hiking in Colorado.
But in the meantime, it is mine, all mine, and I cannot tell you what a difference it has made.
It is tiny, this place. It is a studio, with a nook for the bed. The kitchen has black and white tiles on the floor, and the drawers are nearly painted shut. The lights all have pull chains to turn them on. There are numerous locks on the door that no longer function, and three that do.
The windows face west. The place is bright and cheerful, and already I have a series of photos of sunsets taken out the window.
I get work done here, next to my fridge full of healthy food, and then I walk through the neighborhood in the evening.
When I come back to this little space, I feel like I'm coming home. It's been a long time since I felt that way.