After my earlier musings about the significance of settling in one place for 5 years (“Spent my life running round“) it makes sense to look at what ‘being settled’ would mean to me.
Most of the major activities would remain constant – it doesn’t count as My Life if I am not doing the things like cycling, running, dancing, loitering in cafes for hours on end – the thing that changes is the base I launch them from. For the longest time my life has consisted of living out of a suitcase in rented rooms and apartments. Since I know that at a fixed date in the next 3-12 months I am going to be packing my belongings up again and transporting them manually to the next location (most often via aeroplanes or trains), I live light. I do not buy new clothes reguarly, I do not buy many possessions or decorations in fact. Spares and extras aren’t there – the point at which I run out of something is when I buy another.
The rented rooms or flats I occupy are usually decorated with renters in mind. The rooms are painted white or beige. The furniture is basic Ikea standard. They are neutral, bland environments that I do not do a lot to disguise.
What I want more than anything else is to be in the same flat for more than 12 months. That isn’t going to happen immediately when I’m in the USA, sadly. The typical American rented apartment comes completely unfurnished – given all the other expenses that will hit me when I move country I don’t think an entire new collection of furniture is something I can afford to pay straight off. Then of course I am moving to an unfamiliar town: I don’t know who the dodgy letting agencies are, I don’t know the best/worst places to live, I don’t know how easy it is to find accommodation in this area. So I will first be moving into on-campus graduate housing for the first 12 months – it’s cheap and convenient and I know what I’m letting myself in for.
My feverent hope is that some of the following characteristics of domesticity will make their way into the apartments I inhabit:
- National Geographic subscriptions arriving by post.
- Random kitchen gadgets that I’d only use a few times a month. Things like a smoothie-maker, wok, sandwich grill and rice cooker (seriously, my life is too short and my culinary skills too limited to spend 40 minutes in the kitchen stirring a pot of boiling rice. The fucker always bubbles over, as well…).
- A digital radio set to BBC Radio’s World Service.
- Spare food supplies in my cupboards…all the time. I could also have a herb & spice collection filling up an entire cupboard.
- Photographs hung in actual frames on the wall, no more blu-tack and pins for this young adult.
- A library room with fitted shelves. Some of those shelve will – naturally – contain my National Geographic collection.
- Themed decorations in each room. “The Highland Room” “The Cities Room” “The Seashore Room” are the themes I want the most and have wanted for many years now.
- Being able to shop at the local farmer’s market and buy organic/fairtrade items, instead of “Supermarket Brand Value” objects like I usually do.
- No more beige walls. Is a splash of colour too much to ask for?
- A dedicated study space – complete with desk, office chair and shelves for my important paperwork.
- A coffee machine. Although I drink litres of the stuff, I would be the first to declare that instant coffee tastes awful. The smell of espresso dripping out of a steam-powered espresso machine is truly irresistable, which is why I like to hang out in coffeehouses. It would have to be an espresso machine if it was anything.
What does domesticity mean for you guys?