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Friday, March 04, 2005

A home

In Chicago, I had just about the perfect apartment. Well, minus the paper-thin walls, lack of closet space, and living room layout. There was just something magical and peaceful about the way the hardwood floors gleamed in candlelight; the bamboo shades in the windows of the living room alcove outlined in tin star lights; the squat Art Deco orange chair always adorned with a sleeping black cat; the purple velvet couch; plants everywhere . . .

But the only way to get that was late at night, filled with candles. The living room was the main part of the apartment, and being the thoroughfare from the front door to the kitchen took away from its living-ness, and turned it into a huge hallway.

I had always daydreamed about the kind of city apartment I'd have. Sparse. Dusty. Book-filled comes to mind. And it took me forever to realize that didn't reflect me. I crave coziness. Hardwood floors don't exactly ooze coze. What I think of as me never was.

So as much as I really can't stand carpet, my living room now is so cozy. I never sit on the couch. I sprawl on the floor on scattered pillows. The living room is a place I want to be.

I was cleaning tonight, throwing out papers that gather like dust bunnies on every spare surface of the apartment. Shuffling candles, recipes printed off Epicurious.com, scraps of paper with notes and lists scribbled on them into some semblance of order. My liquor table doubles, no, triples, as a cookbook shelf and a cat blocker to spare the carpet from pee in the dining room. A litter box sits against the floorboards, because it was easier to cater to the cats than disinfect the carpet every day.

The living room holds a drum kit, scads of hand weights, piles of books and CDs. The walls: collages, origami stars, and some random paper mobiles--all by Hannah.

I looked at it all, and wondered what people thought of the first time they walked into it. It's not what I ever thought I'd create for myself (and that's probably because I had to share creation with Tim, but still). I wish there was a place to put the handweights other than underneath the gorgeous, elegant walnut coffee table my dad made, or that we didn't need to put a fucking litter box in our dining room.

But I finally realized (or came to terms with the fact) that it's my home. My space. I'll never have the spare, Asian-inspired empty rooms, or the intellectual's towering bookshelves in a dusty bare room* (see comment). This messy warmth is really what I am.


Blogger Megan said...

My apartment is nothing like I ever envisioned for myself. I would love futons and black laquer dishes and Japanese window screens. Instead, it's a collage of Wonder Woman memorabilia, a tattered carpet, and a matching cat-shredded armchair and sofa.

6:03 AM  
Blogger LE said...

YES . . . window screens! *sigh*

Oh, my note.

When I was a college senior and just decided to move to Chicago, I got into Ani's "Little Plastic Castles" album. It evoked a dark, cool summer night, walking down an empty neighborhood street on the North Side, near the lake.

Lots of aloneness. An empty apartment with mile-high ceilings, windows covered in plain gauzy curtains, pillows, and piles of books. A kitchen filled with old woks, wine bottles, and clove cigarettes.

I'm explaining it poorly. But it all had a lonely beautiful feeling to me that can't be put into words. That was how I envisioned myself and my life, but that has never been an accurate reality. I've never been that cool.

7:56 AM  
Blogger Leanne said...

A place of my own is number one on my coveting list right now. I feel stifled by the fact that I can't express myself fully in my home.

June 1st is the goal date. Cross your fingers for me.

3:20 AM  
Blogger jamie said...

Ell, I always thought your Chicago digs were incredibly cozy. I instantly felt at home and relaxed every time I've been there. For the record... ;)

much love.

6:58 PM  

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