Home. That’s what Stasha is asking us to think about this week and as often happens, the listicle topic and the topic floating around in my own brain right now seem to mesh. I’ve been missing “home” a bit, even as I’m wondering where home is: is it with my mom, in Indiana, a state where I’ve never actually lived? Is it New York, where I no longer have an apartment? Is it Abu Dhabi, where I live in an apartment filled with furniture that belongs to the management company, not to us?
Maybe the answer is “all of the above.”
So. Given all these possibilities, a list about home.
1. Settled – we’re staying another year. Unsettled – it still feels like new territory
2. Light – our living room has an amazing view of the Gulf, the city, the sky. Dark – the kitchen has walls the color of old oatmeal and no windows.
3. Spacious – to my squashed New York perspective, I think to myself we have a three bedrooms, which means the boys in one room, grownups in another, and one whole room for people to play computer games in, without mommy
yelling politely requesting that they turn that damn thing game down. Cramped – Liam desperately wants his own room; I don’t have a desk of my own; piles of paper are slowly coalescing around Husband’s desk like coral growing on a reef.
4. Decorated – there are silk drapes at the windows and alabaster light fixtures in the ceiling. Overdone – I didn’t choose the drapes, didn’t choose the light fixtures, didn’t choose the rugs. It’s all better than what would’ve been here if we’d moved into an unfurnished apartment (windows with no privacy, bare bulbs in the ceiling, cold tile floors), but occasionally I want to chuck it all and start again with MY stuff.
5. Comfortable – the couch in the living room is perfect for napping or cuddling for story time. Uncomfortable – the chairs that came with this dining room set are white leather with wood trim and give me a back ache. (Carmela Soprano would love them, however.)
6. Fragrant – we have sweet-smelling candles around, and occasionally I go into my dreary kitchen and cook good-smelling food. Smelly – the heat and humidity combine to create the fastest-growing breed of mildew you’ve ever sniffed: dishrags and washclothes can go from clean to euuwwww in about two hours.
7. Warm – sunlight streams in, an ocean breeze wafts in through the open window…eight or nine months a year. Freezing – the AC blasts non-stop the rest of the time; I keep a sweater draped over the back of my chair.
8. Loud – boys squabbling, music playing, and everything here pings: the microwave beeps, the washer beeps, the dishwasher beeps, the dryer beeps, even the damn fridge beeps if you leave the door open too long. Quiet – unlike New York, where a constant barrage of sirens penetrates everywhere, the streets are quieter here, which means that the stillness in our apartment astonishes my New York ears.
9. Clean – the amazing luxury of a cleaning lady means no dust, tidy bathrooms, floors that aren’t sticky. Messy – socks on tables, homework spread on all surfaces, Very Important Lego Projects being built across the bedroom floor.
10. Home – we live here. Visiting – it’s an apartment in someone else’s city, not ours.
the sunset from our living room window a few months ago – no image manipulation whatsoever, I promise
Wow, that picture’s beautiful! I’m jealous of your cleaning lady.
This sounds so familiar. SO you are staying another year ha? I laughed at the Carmela bit. I always said to my husband our flat in Bahrain was decorated by her too…
That photo leaves me breathless. Ah, the joys of a cleaning person who is not me. The floor stickiness kills me every time.
Home can be everything at once, can’t it? Be it sticky or clean, cold or hot, as long as your people are there, it’s home. Ellen
Yep. You’re so right. That’s why when people talk in real estate about a lovely “home” for sale, I balk. What’s for sale is the HOUSE. The “home” comes after the people move in – and depending on the people and their relationships it may or may not be a “home.”
Wow. That is some view. Home definitely is where those you love live. What an adventure you are on. I love reading about your life.
Thanks…the view is pretty great. Of course, the kitchen (windowless, dull brown walls, crappy stove) is pretty dreadful, so it sort of balances out. Sometimes life seems like an adventure here and sometimes it’s just…life. Which i think is pretty much true everywhere, isn’t it?
Good contrasts, and all of which I can relate to so well.
Yes, I think for lots of expats – even long-term expats (question: is there a point at which one ceases to be “expat?”) – that oscillation becomes the new normal. or so i tell myself…
Having seen the apartment in question, I have to say that a whole lot of nits are being picked here. But then, I love air conditioning; quiet streets, to an apartment dweller, are the rarest blessing of all; and you forgot to mention one other little thing: it’s FREE.
I’m in tears, another year. Beautiful contrasts. An adventure for sure and a priceless experience for all of you. I am constantly jealous and worried at the same time. Good luck and much love.
You? Ms triathlete, worried about moi? sheesh! as you plunge into the Hudson river and swim? nerves of steel, that’s what you got. i’ll see you this summer when we’re back , fer sure.