What makes a flat feel like a home? What is it that allows you to feel safe and happy in the place you get back to after work? And why, oh, why, when you have it all worked out, you decide to ruin it all and move to another flat and start all over again?
In Greece we have this saying that whatever you do in the 1st of January, you will be doing for the rest of the year. Given that\’s it\’s not the most sophisticated pockets of wisdom that came out of this country, I am sure this is not exclusive to the Greeks, but I remember that when I was younger it was a big source of anxiety around that time of year – what if I had an extremely nasty spot, or happened to listen to some terrible music, or, worse, be on my period that day?
I then grew to understand basic human biology and the myth was busted
in the same way it did when I realised that even if you are the God of Thunder,
it still doesn\’t guarantee that people will take you and your sex life seriously…
So, coming back to the Greek words of wisdom, this New Year\’s day I woke up in the flat of my most beautiful, badass friend, Josie, after a great night with some of our dearest friends! This year I woke up knowing I have made friendships that would never fade. I woke up feeling that I would be cared for for a change. I smiled and thought, oh, ok, this feeling can definitely stay for the rest of the year.
So a month or so ago, the second room in Josie\’s flat became available and now we are finally allowed to let our green fingers go wild, combine our plant collections and create a mega-botanical wonder in a beautiful apartment. And, most importantly, be there for each other and have fun! Leaving a perfectly good little den, packing millions of plants and moving to a shared house was a big decision!
Especially one you have angelikified (newfound term which, in my friends\’ words, is \”what a place would look like if a hipster and a bear had a love child\”) to your full potential! I guess that little flat was truly angelikified. It hosted many little bears, more plants than it made sense to, and lots of amazing conversations with truly wonderful people.
But who could say no to living with their beloved friend and all the plants?
No one should say no to that. Not even me, who have been a devout hermit for the last year and a half!
Before you start picturing me sitting by the window, judging unsuspecting passers by and sulking about how I wasn\’t invited to go out with people even though I am fully aware I would decline anyway, stroking a bad-tempered cat, let me just say: I loved living on my own! Plus, I wasn\’t allowed pets in my flat, so the cat lady potential was contractually limited for me.
Living on your own makes you think a lot more. Sometimes you catch yourself talking out-loud to your plants, thinking \”well at least I am not a weirdo, talking to myself\”. Plants make a house alive. Probably not to the point where you have conversations with them, but they certainly add something beautiful and happy to the general atmosphere of a place.
But yes, you think a lot more when you are by yourself. Mostly about useless stuff, like \’I wish I had asked my dad more about how to clean burnt rice off pans\’, or \’I wonder if I can fit another plant in here without having to play house Tetris every time I need something from my desk\’.. But you also think of a lot more. There is no one around, so all your time at home is for yourself to work things out in your messy head. It is healing to be able to have this time and I think everyone needs to live alone every now and then (or be left alone for a bit). Everyone needs to see what it looks like when they have complete, unsupervised, undisturbed use of their time and there is no one around to judge or influence their actions. It is both terrifying and healing, and immensely relaxing once you are at peace with yourself.
Aloneness – but not loneliness – is, it turns out, very important.
I got used to seeing people only when I want to and socialising by bringing my laptop to dog friendly cafes (thank you Grounded) pretending that being surrounded by dogs, other cafe regulars, kind baristas and kids playing the plate drums using their folks as drumsticks was the best I could hope for, given I don\’t actually have the time to socialise properly. To be honest, I have met some truly wonderful people, played with some wonderful dogs and learnt to be a selective listener.
Disclaimer: I made no friends under the age of 5 and I curse the day any of them were allowed cutlery.
Suddenly I find myself wanting to have beautiful, happy people in my life and leave the hermetic lifestyle behind. I have packed all my bears and plants and, with the help of my good good people, moved to the new place. Strange how empty rooms look. The ones you are leaving behind seem silent and full of memories. Lifeless if not for the occasional sesame seed you have failed to hoover. So, I guess what turns an empty flat into a home, is, well, you! For me it was my silly ideas to use furniture in unconventional ways, the smell of cedar wood from my brother\’s bowls, the plants I stuffed in every possible corner, the fairy lights and, indeed, the memories of all the good people that spent time with me in there. I am so grateful to this little flat!
The new place is to be talked about in another post. It is beautiful, full of inspiration and ideas, and ready to be angelikified! At the moment mainly full of unpacked boxes with stuff that, even though you packed a few days ago, you forgot you even had! Like a second, highly improved Christmas that you get to spend opening boxes on your own, without feeling obliged to eat various puddings that are not that nice and all of them with raisins! I mean, if these things were that good, we\’d have them all year round. Now Christmas pudding and stollen feel like a sacrifice you have to make the the spirit of Christmas for spending time off work and being in a good, warm mood. One must pay back for their hours of joy with what once was a perfectly fine grape that then got dried, only to be cooked and turn soggy and weird in an attempt to apologise for your mistake and bring the grape back to its previous glory.
Somewhere, scribbled down on a Greek amphora, someone once tried to convey this deepest of truths:
You can turn a grape into a raisin, but you can\’t turn a raisin into a grape…
They also added:
…But you can definitely thank all the wonderful people around you who make you smile.
Thank you. I am so grateful and I owe you all some coffee in my new place!