It would appear I’m not very good at having a place to call home. I lack nesting skills.
When I first moved in with my boyfriend, I was very good at nesting. I brought all my books and DVDs and basically took over his shelves with my shit. I marked my territory, much as animals do in the wild, but instead of urine I used my prized possessions. Somewhere in the two years that followed, I forgot how to do this.
In December 2011, I abandoned ship. Living in a two bedroom apartment with my bf, his brother, and their semi-permanently drunk father got to be a little too much. There was no one to sync my menstrual cycle with, so I suppose you could say my ovaries got lonely. I reacted to this by moving in with another dude, because I am an idiot sometimes, and wasn’t quite ready to let go of my usual dose of testosterone and video games. My bf’s dad, presuming I had been living there for cheap rent so I could save money and then break his son’s heart, threw out everything I owned two months after I left. I’m OK with that, because I had never intended to return for it.
I was no longer the person who had owned those things anyway.
When I was living temporarily with my sister, everything I owned could pretty much fit in one of those cheap plastic three-drawer organizers. Again, when I moved in with my new roomie, I had a hard time “decorating” my room. I didn’t know what I wanted it to look like.
People’s homes are often a reflection of how they see themselves and a collection of things that they find pleasing to the eye. Mementos from their lives are plastered on the walls, and their favorite books line shelves along with souvenirs and precious little knick-knacks. At that point in my life, I felt like I had flushed away the remnants of my former life and was starting with a blank slate. My walls were are bare as my soul felt.
Everyone knows the first world is incredibly materialistic. We want more, we want bigger, better, and more expensive. We want bragging rights simply for having worked enough hours to buy some higher-end shit. It gets to the point that we actually begin to define ourselves by what we own.
That’s pretty fucking scary.
I used to find the thought of my old journals and books rotting in a landfill incredibly depressing. Who was I without my precious manga, or that shirt I liked, or the jewelry with which I would adorn myself? Who would I be without my first copy of Tiger Eyes or The Secret Garden — books I’d carried everywhere with me since the second grade? My personality and view of myself stemmed so much from the objects I’d chosen to own that they had become intertwined, and the most frightening part is that I’d never noticed.
Having all my stuff thrown out was the best thing that ever happened to me, because I learned I am more than what I own.
So my journals and books are gone? Here’s an opportunity to fill new journals and read new books.
So my manga is rotting away? A chance to buy more, or draw my own and discover some deeply hidden talent.
Clothing and jewelry all bagged up and chucked? Go shopping for some new stuff and maybe try looking within rather than focusing solely on dressing myself up like someone I’m not.
I’ve spent the last year trying to figure out who I am, what I want, how I want to go about it, and how to live my life in a way that makes me happy. I get stressed out a lot at work, and if my home life is in chaos, everything goes to shambles. So I’ve been working on making my apartment a sanctuary where once I’m at home, I’m instantly relaxed and it doesn’t matter that we ran out of loonies or that customers were particularly grumpy that day. But I’ve forgotten the art of nesting. Up until last month, there was absolutely nothing on my walls. As I work on myself and find ways to be happy, it appears that my nesting skills are returning, a little at a time.
I’ll always like stuff. Stuff is great. Cute little objects that make me smile are wonderful. I acknowledge my privilege in being somewhat middle class, living in Canada, and I understand that there are a lot of people in the world worse off than me. But I’m human, and humans like collecting objects as much as the next pack rat. I live within my means, definitely, and if I can’t afford something I just don’t buy it (or I make it myself). While they’re nice to look at and lovely to hold, my possessions no longer define me. If I lost everything ten minutes from now, I’d shrug it off and move forward. That’s a big step for me.
Nesting while living minimally is a delicate balance. I haven’t yet mastered the art.
- Leaving The Nest (mairzeebp.wordpress.com)