What Is Home?

November 7, 2017

 

I was recently posed the question, what is home to you? Not a straight forward answer for me as home is so many things. Here I've tried to put it into words. 

 

 

On the white vintage stove, minced garlic sizzles in butter and then is tossed in perfect al dente noodles with shaved parmesan just like her father taught her. Sitting at the worn wood table we found for $25 on Craigslist, we sip cheap red wine and share about our day as night falls upon the bay windows in Oakland.  

This is home. 

 

The 11th floor apartment houses five balconies, each with a view that inspire gratitude. Nestled in the basin of Medellin’s mountains, the cityscape and natural landscape weave together in beautiful contrast. At night, the view sparkles while a salsa, cumbia, or vallenato plays on any given night in neighboring living rooms.

This is home.

 

 

Downstairs the garden offers a color burst of fuchsia bougainvillea that hugs the stone walls. If this is pleasing to the eye, then the jasmine that winds around metal rails is the distinct perfume of Tunis. At times, fresh mint is plucked for a guest’s mojito. Other times, picked sage leaves are cut into a simmering pasta sauce. And occasionally, a ripe avocado is reached off the bedroom balcony on the 2nd floor to be enjoyed in the dinner salad.

This is home.

 

 

From the windows, the small apartment certainly looks like the hundreds other apartments visible at eleven stories high. The rectangular peep holes give view into varied activities of daily life: a child doing homework, an older woman hoopla hooping for exercise, a family watching TV. The overhead ceiling lights here are fluorescent. When on, home feels more like a doctor’s office. So, they are never are. Instead, a tall paper floor lantern, several votive candles and small table lamps illuminate the rooms. The soft glow is warming especially during the freezing winter months of snowfall. The act of lighting, along with the making of peppermint tea in artisan mugs, makes for our own nightly Korean ritual. 

This is home. 

 

 

The cottage in the exotic environment of Luang Prabang is pretty on its own. There are imperfections though. The corrugated tin roof in the kitchen creates a deafening sound when summer rains hit. Unfinished corners allow critters in, the most frightening, a snake in the shower. But, these are masked once the shipment came in. Opening boxes marked in Korean letters feels familiar and exciting, much like unwrapping gifts on Christmas. Soon enough, rugs cover the tile floors and collected art dresses the white walls. A favorite, though, is the wooden ledge that trails along the stairs. This becomes a natural place for framed photographs. My sister and I in Oakland. Your parents when they came to visit. Us as children.  Walking up and down these steps feels like a friendly reminder that our people, far as they are, are here. 

This is home. 

 

Music has the power to capture moments in notes, in lyrics. There is never a day in our Rockridge home where music is absent. Morning showers are taken with our Spotify Daily Mix, comparing whose is better. Weekend afternoons feel like the perfect time to open the record player and listen to the grainy vinyls discovered in a vintage shop in the city. Some nights after dinner, the TV stays off and conversation takes us from one memory to another. These come with songs that we take turns playing for each other.  In this way, the stories come to life. And, each song becomes our shared life soundtrack. 

This is home.

 

Since the age of 18, I’ve been a voluntary nomad. 

California.

Spain. 

Colombia. 

Tunisia,

South Korea.

Laos.

Mexico.

 

It could be that I share the love of travel that many people do. But, I’ve lived in each place on this list. At some point in life I’ve called each home. Both distinct and similar, these spaces occupy a place in my memory and have a hold on my heart. 

 

Interior designing is a natural instinct for me. It is a way for me to feel grounded and secure in places that are so different from each other. By creating a home that reflects my comforts and personality inside, the world outside feels more welcoming. 

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