riding bitch

The life of a writer and survivor of loss.


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What Makes a Home “Home”

Yesterday marked three months of living in my new home, and I’m happy to say that it’s actually starting to feel like “home.”

What is it that makes living quarters actually feel like that? For me, it’s a few things.

Decorating

living room art

Living room wall

The other day I finally unpacked all the artwork I brought with me from L.A. and put some of it up. This wasn’t as simple as it sounds. I now live in a 2-BR apartment, instead of 1-BR, and have significantly more wall space. Also, the living room is green, which is tricky. So, before I put anything up, I walked from room to room asking “which color theme are you?” and tried to listen to what each room told me.

The living room wanted only black and white artwork which won’t clash with the green.

The bedroom asked for the big yellow painting I used to have over my bed in L.A., and my mother’s pastel-colored artwork. It’s going to be a powerful, feminine sanctuary when it’s finished.

Bedroom wall

Bedroom wall

The hallway claimed all the rock ‘n roll artwork, including the Coop lithograph, which now hangs just outside the kitchen.

Hallway corner

Hallway corner

Coop lithograph

Coop lithograph

The kitchen and the bathroom are still undecided.

Most of the artwork used to belong to Kaz, and reminds me of him. But in L.A., every wall also held an image of Kaz. Now, only my office (the smaller bedroom) has images of him. My office is the most private room in the apartment, not only because it has two doors which I can close from the inside, but also because it’s where I do my most creative thinking, spend most of my time, and feel the most content. It feels right to have Kaz with me in this room.

There’s still a long way to go with the decorating (rugs, matching towels, TV stand, etc.), but putting the artwork up was a big first step.

Cleaning

I know it sounds like I’m getting all domestic, but seriously, once you start cleaning your house, it’s Home! The other day I spent a couple of hours vacuuming, dusting, tidying up and mopping the kitchen floor. It felt good! I’ve also decided to go to war with the critters. A clean house is the first battle move.

Candles

In lieu of no fireplace, I’ve been using candles to add, if not real warmth, then decorative warmth. Some of them are scented (nothing overpowering), and make the house smell lovely.

Cooking

Some of you may recall that, for a long time after Kaz died, it was difficult for me to cook like I used to, and this was painful because I really love to cook. Now that I live in the countryside, where restaurants are far and few between, I’m back in the kitchen on a regular basis. I’ve made Chili, Meatloaf, Quiche, Frittata, Pumpkin Pie and Ice Tea, which I heat up for hot sweet tea in the cold afternoons. Soon I will make my first soups. But my specialty seems to be Apple Crisp.

It started in late September when I went apple picking with some friends and came home with 20 lbs of apples! I made my first batch of crisp with half of those apples, and the rest of the apples I brought to friends in NYC. My mother and I used to make apple pies together when I was a kid and, to this day, nothing recalls that feeling of home to me than the smell of yummy, buttery apples wafting throughout the house.  A tip: don’t throw away the apple peel and grinds right away. You can boil them to make hot cider and/or add them to tea for flavor.

(had to go big with this pic)

apple crisp

Fresh Apple Crisp made with hand-picked apples (can you smell it??)

Traveling

The first two months of being here, I went to NYC four times (!) and Washington D.C. once. I’ve seen lots of my family and friends in the city. I even saw Kaz’s mother in D.C. But after all that visiting and traveling, I cannot express how nice it was to come home to the quiet, natural beauty and slow pace of my new neighborhood, the comfort of my own bed, and the peace of my own office.

Staying Home

I don’t know when I’ll be traveling to the city again (maybe Christmas). For now, it’s nice to just plant roots and settle in. I guess staying home reinforces the feeling of Home.

All of these simple things have helped me adjust to the new reality and feel less homesick. I’m building a new life and a new career in a completely new environment. It’s a lot. When I unpacked the artwork, it was like reuniting with old friends. A little bit of Hollywood in upstate New York. 🙂

Can you think of other things that make a place Home? Design tips welcome!