Monday, March 17, 2014

Finding One's Place

We have a spreadsheet all ready. An itinerary of apartments and townhouses we're going to look at when we visit Ann Arbor, with some nursery schools thrown in for good measure. I think we have a nice variety of places, which I guess it has to be because we kind of have to find Our Home for the Next Two Years on this visit.

It's a bit nerve-wracking, you know? We've been scouring Craigslist,, and rental-realtor websites, trying to find a place within specific parameters: 2+ bedrooms, 2+ bathrooms, a specific budget, a specific distance from where Jake is going to work. But we won't know for sure what we like until we're there. And whatever we end up choosing, it has to be on this list. Eek!

I'm excited to visit Ann Arbor, excited to get my first look at our new town, excited to find a place to make home. I'm excited to figure out where we'll fit in, how to organize our things (though not at all excited about getting them packed up), excited to have new walls, new windows, and maybe just maybe a new fireplace and/or outside space.

Jake got me To Your Tastea decorating book, for my birthday. It was the perfect present: full of ideas about finding a stylistic voice and creating a home, without being prescriptive, telling the reader what to buy, or what a room should look like. I'm really enjoying reading it.

One of the first things Celerie Kemble says in the book, before talking about color or style, before discussing the ways in which you actually use your house is, "Show me where you were and I will help you figure out who you are." The places that were important to us as children dictate our styles now, whether the impulse is to copy or veer away from them. That made so much sense to me, since some of the things I'm looking for in a space--whether rented or bought--are:

  1. A fireplace, picture window, big backyard, and oak trees nearby (like the house I grew up in)
  2. Built-in shelves and big bright accents (like my Grandma Lo's house, whose kitchen wallpaper was very nearly Marimekko)
  3. Beautifully organized tchotchkes and furniture that are a wonderfully chaotic mix of mid-century modern, kitschy old-world, and gorgeously-crafted wood (like my Grandma Florence's house)
It all doubly-clicked for me when I thought about my most recent dramaturgical process, Orlando, based on a book which at it's core is about a woman and a house. Virginia Woolf wrote Orlando to celebrate her lover's life, which was inextricably linked to the house she grew up in.

So I'm going into this apartment/condo/townhouse search with a couple of it-would-be-nice-to-haves from my past, knowing that while the place we find might not be perfect, it'll be an awesome opportunity to start figuring out how to really make a Place a Home. And who knows, we might find someplace we do fall in love with, a place with promise and potential for the next two years. I'm excited to explore!

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