What Makes Home, Home?

Currently listening to: Under The Pressure by The War on Drugs

Creating a home for yourself allows you to find something comforting, cozy and welcoming to come back to everyday. Whether it’s buying great pieces of furniture, adding pops of color with art or sticking with the basics – designing a space you feel good in is important for your well-being. There’s something about getting into a routine of making the bed in the morning, reading the post-it on the door to remind you not to forget your keys and turning off the lights at the end of the night. After a long-day at work, night out with your friends or when returning home from vacation – you want to walk in and feel excited to return to this space that you’ve created for yourself. Feeling safe, at ease and carefree.

Early 20s

Shortly after my junior year of college, I moved in with a friend in the East Village. It was this huge apartment – nobody I knew had an apartment this large in such a great location. It was super run down, we had numerous leaks and maintenance issues but the rent was so reasonable and the space was so good, we couldn't give it up. The entrance was on Second Avenue but our apartment was on the back of the building so we didn't have to deal with noise from the street. We did however, have noise from the sports bar downstairs. We were on the second floor, the bar had two floors and basically if there was music playing – we heard every word. Seriously, every single word of every single song. Sometimes I would sing along and other times, I wanted nothing to do with the place and was tempted to call 311. The bar hosted Saturday Night Live after-after-parties that started at 4am. I would often be out late, show up to my front door and there would be a bouncer asking me for the password. The password? To my apartment? I would point to my apartment and he would immediately let me in. (There was an entrance to the bar inside my apartment building, crazy, I know!) I spent many late nights bouncing between parties in our apartment and the bar downstairs. The neighborhood was young, fun and lively – very fitting for my personality. After several years in this run-down but massive apartment, the landlord decided not to let us renew our lease. We figured they got the hint that our rent was so low and if they performed a minor facelift to the apartment, they could easily make double what we were paying.

Mid 20s

I knew the day that we received the letter that we couldn’t renew our lease, it was time for me to live alone. I had numerous really great roommates and one not-so-great cat but was ready to put that all behind me. When my broker showed me the studio apartment on Leroy Street, I knew right away I was going to live there. It was in the West Village what more could I want?  I had never even heard of Leroy Street but it was cute, quaint and quiet. There was a bar underneath (couldn't seem to escape that) but it wasn’t loud – there was just always a line to get in at any given hour and during any crazy winter storm. This studio became my home base. I started making conscious decisions of furniture that I wanted to have long term  -- not just the Ikea dresser that was going to split in half in a few months. I really enjoyed this home for three years. It was really, really me. Unfortunately that feeling shifted when I spent much of my time there recovering post-surgery. Also, a year later having to have a PICC line put in and facilitate IV medication from home. The place I once called home began feeling sterile. When I received my lease renewal with a major price increase, all signs were leading towards something new and refreshing. It was time to leave this place that was once comfortable and lovely that became a sick person’s home.

Late 20s – Turning 30

The studio on Leroy Street really worked perfectly for me size-wise when I first moved in. When I decided it was time to make the move, my biggest priority was a real kitchen. My studio kitchen had one tiny counter space that was barely useable. When I moved in, I was never cooking but by the time I was moving out, I was cooking regularly. I ended up using my glass dining room table as a multi(dys)functional cutting board, dining table, and serving spot. So the hunt was on for a one-bedroom with a normal sized kitchen. Saw three crappy apartments on the Upper West Side and was sure there was something out there for me. The following day, my cousin showed me a legit one-bedroom in Chelsea with exposed brick, a real kitchen and a real bedroom. Time to sign the papers, it’s mine. I now live in a home that I can entertain (I’ve had 12 people here!) which is rare in apartments in Manhattan. All of my vegetables, blender, juicer and iPad to play music and read recipes can fit on my kitchen counter at the same time. I have a non-working fireplace that I decorated with candles and starting lighting them when the winter chill started to creep its way in. I love this place. It’s cozy and comfortable. It’s large enough to not feel confined to a small space especially when working from home. I love the neighborhood – there’s so much goodness nearby. Great restaurants and coffee shops (Shout out to the vegan banana chocolate chip muffin at Grumpys), grocery stores (Oh, how I love you Forager’s), shopping (just being close to Bed, Bath and Beyond makes me happy) and soon-to-try yoga studios (Katonah Yoga, I’m coming for you).

I’ve moved in a circle around Manhattan – growing up in Gramercy, down to the East Village, over to the West Village and up to Chelsea. Managing to stay below 23rd Street my whole life and plan to keep it that way. Who knows what/when will be next but for now I’m really happy where I am.

This is one of my favorite paragraphs to read over and over again written by Harilyn Rousso in her book, Don’t Call Me Inspirational (pg.26):

            Home is being silent. It is not having to listen to anyone else, not having to make conversation and worry about whether others understand me, not having to consult with anyone about what to eat or drink or what to do next. It is refusing to answer the phone, drinking sweet cups of coffee, sitting in front of my living room window looking at magical tree trunks or naked neighbors. It is writing, painting, dreaming, musing, or becoming mindless. It is being by myself but not being lonely or anxious to start or stop. Home is me by myself without the impulse to flee. It is not being intruded on. It is relishing the moment without fearing the hour.  It is writing this word without feeling pressured to start the next. It is hearing sounds and voices without scrutinizing what they mean. It is having all the time in the world to speak from a place in my belly that is usually silent. It is feeding my plants. It is listening to the birds out my window. Home is not threatening myself with humiliation and ruin. It is just being in the world without demand or expectation. It is hiding in a safe place.