Sunday, June 27, 2010

at home

I'm in the process of moving apartments right now, and as a result I've been fairly fixated on the topic of homes—especially because for the very first time I'm going to be living alone. ALL ALONE. I believe my feelings on this prospect can be best illustrated by a very eloquent interrogative blend which I've only just coined: eek/hooray?

But disregarding the tiny erratic stabs of terror (ohmygod I'm going to live alone forever and never get married or have children or grandchildren and no
one will ever love me except the 42 million cats I'll have except I'm allergic to cats and I'm too anal to have a dog and I hate all other pets so it's just going to be me and my 3 fake upside-down birds alone forever), I'm very excited about putting together a space that is as close to exactly right as I can get. I've been looking through a lot of home decorating-ish books (this one and this one are current faves), and my friend Sarah was also kind enough to lend me the Apartment Therapy "8 Step Home Cure", which I've been devouring. I'm maybe a little too obsessed, but it's full of very cogent thoughts on the connections between our physical living space and our emotional/psychological lives.

Totally fascinating stuff! At least to me, since I've learned (usually the hard way) post-leaving my parents' house that the qualities of the place I live in hold great sway over my mood, behavior, actions, etc. Shall I say that this is a natural tendency because I'm a Cancer? No, because astrology is ridiculous. (Er, at least compared to my other New Age obsessions.) But even if you can live with only a folding chair and a bare lightbulb and be a perfectly well-adjusted person, I think the suggestions that the book has are very smart. Buy fresh flowers, for example (because bringing natural beauty into your home is NOT frivolous). Don't put all your furniture against one wall (awkward flow). And dust. All the time.

Dusting is my most hated chore; I think it's the most nihilism-inducing of all household crap tasks, because it reminds you that everything is constantly degrading into mess. Ashes to ashes, Entropy and the Heat Death of the Universe and all that. Also, it's BORING AND REPETITIVE. But! I will try to turn over a new leaf in my new apartment and dust everything once a week. I will listen to records and it won't be so bad. I will remember that
making a home that makes you happy takes time and deliberation and energy—an idea that I must say runs counter to the dominant capitalist narrative. It would be nice if filling your home with the "right" consumer goods alone would make you happy. But instead it will just make you look like a bougie fool on Craigslist when you try to sell your formerly $2000 Room and Board sectional.

Deepening my thoughts on all of these home ideas was a trip that I took Saturday to the Farnsworth House in rural Plano (90 min southwest of the city). It was a truly beautiful trip for many reasons: because I went with a group of people who are going to be great new friends (!!), because the weather was glorious and sunny and we got to drive through the country with the windows down and the smell of fresh soil streaming in, and because the house itself was even more incredible than expected. (Also because afterward we went to a pub and ate cheap burgers and watched the World Cup. But I digress.)

To get to the house you take a path through the woods, walking downhill toward the Fo
x River, until it appears in a grove. (Originally the landscape was prairie, and the house rose up out of a meadow rather than the current mown-grass field.) I'm nervous about writing about architecture, so I will just use a simile and say that it was like the cleanest, most white sheet you can imagine hanging perfectly straight over a length of clear fishing line tied between two trees. It is hanging so that one quarter of the length of the sheet is in the front, and three quarters are in the back: precise asymmetry that feels so subconsciously good you sigh with the rightness of it.

I love that the first photo in this post—taken by Tom who conveniently works for Hedrich Blessing—shows us all basking in its glow. And while the history of the house is not necessarily a happy one, and it seemed to me that it was always more of a showpiece or an idea than an actual inhabited home, getting to experience it from the outside and inside was definitely a fairly spiritual experience. Now how to parlay my super tiny 1960s-era studio into something approaching a metaphorical piece of Miesian laundry—that is the question...


Anonymous said...

Also I wanted to say thanks for your great architectural simile! You captured the feeling of the place as well as the larger "rightness" that being inside well designed spaces brings! Have you visited the Milwaukee Art Museum by Calatrava? Very satisfying!

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