Last year I created a series in which I asked a different blogger every month to share a recipe of theirs on my blog. This year, rather than focusing on food, I will be featuring homes from people and bloggers from all around the world.
In Spring of 2014, Kinfolk magazine dedicated an entire issue to the idea of “home.” Given that I spent all of 2014 looking for a new home with my husband and our pets, this issue, as well as the topic itself, is one that I consider to be both an extremely important and equally complex one.
The Spring issue set out to explore:
“the meaning of home, what it looks like, how different people arrange them and the qualities that the best ones share. Whether you live with your best friend, partner, strangers or a lazy hound, your concept of home will change with every coat of paint. It’s what (and who) you fill it with that counts.”
I often think back to Issue Eleven with a sense of longing, wishing that I could read it for the first time every time I pick it up. It opened my eyes to the inconsistencies regarding the idea of a home, and how it can mean so many contrasting notions to so many people.
For example, here is what it means to these individuals:
JORDAN HERNANDEZ: THE CHILDHOOD DWELLER
Home is one of the first words we learn as a child. It falls from our mouths and rolls off the tongue the way mom and dad do, providing a sense of where we belong. I still remember my first home: the white shutters, the slanted, creaky hallway and the light blue carpet. I remember blowing out birthday candles and seeing snow from the front windows for the first time. It was the only place I recognized as a haven strong enough to collect my childhood. When we moved, I cried in the back of our van as the bricks that laid the foundation to all my memories became a small speck in the rearview mirror. Then there’s the defining moment when you return to an old house that you once knew so well and suddenly feel like a stranger. The cracks and crevices that once held your secrets no longer recognize your voice. You’ll never stop mourning the loss of a first home but rather grow more resilient each time you move. Allow yourself sentimental feelings when you leave a piece of yourself behind somewhere, and look forward to blowing out more candles in a new place.
AUSTIN SAILSBURY: THE NESTER
We started out like newlyweds often do: deep in love, low on cash and living with mismatched furniture. But then we moved to Scandinavia and discovered a whole new way of nesting. Day by day, a little at a time, we’ve made a home for ourselves. Here are the best lessons we’ve learned so far: 750 square feet (70 square meters) are, in fact, enough room for man and wife to live, work and dream together in harmony. Having less stuff is the best way to fight against clutter. An artful light can become a surrogate sun during the dark season. Only homemade furniture will ever properly fit the crooked walls and sloping floors of a stubborn old apartment. A good kettle and a faithful oven are worthy investments for their work is never done. You can’t put a price on dependable neighbors or a view of the sea. And lastly, we’ve learned to put candles in the windows like tiny flickering lighthouses so that friends and loved ones will always be safely guided home.
MOLLY YEH: THE FARMER
Our day begins with eggs from a nearby coop. My farmer leaves for his long harvest hours and my day of homey solitude brings a cake flavored with rosemary from the farmstead garden. My previous life in New York wasn’t for this solitude or private cake: There was always somewhere to be, something new to do. My apartment wasn’t my home—the city was my home. The park was my living room complete with boats and a castle. My apartment was a temporary space, a sleeping place. In North Dakota, my new town offers what half a New York block would. With air to breathe and permission to be still with the land, I can finally love my very own space. Just past dark, when my farmer comes in, he carries elk gifted by Tom from down the road. We prepare it for our supper and enjoy it at the table that we built. Later, the silence and the stars tuck us to sleep.
LOUISA THOMSEN BRITS: THE EVERYWHERER
Home is about presence, not property. Thoughts of home follow the contours of landscape and memory, but the shape of home shifts as I grow less attached to stuff and can live closer to the heart of things. Home is a clearing in a patch of woodland, the curve of a hill, the pulse of life on a dance floor, a shared blanket, birch trees, backyard fires, a strip of beach, dusk, a place to plant things. Home is a lit lantern, slow mornings, spooning, the smell of coffee and wind-dried washing, the dust and heat of Africa, silence, bare feet, everyday rituals, a notebook, a dark field, a small hand in mine. Home is our wooden table with its burn and pen marks, cup rings and scratches, and our huge bed of mattresses pushed together on the floor. Home is wherever we discover we belong: to a place, to another or to a passing moment. Home is honesty, acceptance and relatedness: complicity, community and connection wherever we are.
MIKE PERRY: THE PARENTAL RESIDER
Living with your parents can be a strange, bittersweet thing. I moved back in right after college to get my life in order and then set out on my own. It was a nice change of pace from the school life: Laundry was getting done by someone else and dinner was real food, not just microwave noodles or yesterday’s pizza. I figured I’d stay a few months, but those months became a few years. I moved out again for a year, trying to carve out a life in another country. Unfortunately things there didn’t quite pan out and I found myself back home, again. As I find myself approaching 30 in a struggling economy, it can be difficult and stressful at times—for everyone. But, as with everything, you take the bad with the good, and I’m lucky to have such supportive parents who are happy to have their son still home.
SHELBY GILL: THE MOBILE HOMER
For me, home is ever-changing, not one static place. It doesn’t have to be brick and mortar: Sometimes home just is. Sometimes home is sitting at the counter of my parent’s kitchen and listening to my mother sing Johnny Cash songs while she makes gazpacho; I’ve never liked gazpacho, but she does, and that makes me happy. So maybe home is the fact that, in that brief moment, she’s happy too. Sometimes home is the third booth back in a small café on Gregg Street, squeezed somewhere behind the woman who plays the mandolin on the front patio and the man who reads the local paper over a double Americano. So maybe home is that feeling of familiarity. Sometimes home is the second chapter of a really good book, where you’re just far enough to be familiar, but haven’t been reading long enough to feel stagnant. So maybe home is just that comfortable place between beginnings and ends. No matter which it is, home is the place that never seems to be stationary. It changes, and so do I.
REBECCA PARKER PAYNE: THE HOMEOWNER
The story of my husband and I is not just about me, him or us, but a story of place. It’s a story of how we married, wrapped warmly in the arms of our community, and bought this tiny house not unlike a small brick box for us to make livable and loved. Ours is a story of believing that buying a house is more than a mortgage and lawn care: It’s understanding that making a home is a responsibility to the walls you live in, the ground you walk on and all the people that will tread here. There’s no escaping this responsibility for us. Ours is a story now intertwined with this place—inseparable, really. Ours is a story that will unfold and grow here. This is the place of our home and the place of our lives, and I’m grateful for it.
For the duration of this year, I will be presenting a varying space to you each month, readers, so that you may also witness the diversity amongst us humans in the way of our homes. I hope to take you on an exotic ride, broaden your knowledge about different cultures, and get you thinking about what you really need to feel comfortable in your own homes, among other things.
This month is merely an introduction to an ambitious new series. The above photo is of two homes that I have lived in over the last year. Both are set in the prairies, a type of land that will always be home to me. In February, I will feature the first house, which will be none other than The Little Barn.
If you would like to take part in this series, which is simply entitled Home, please email me at email@example.com.
I’ll see you guys tomorrow!