I’m temporarily living in France for four months. It is not a hardship – in fact it is very nice. I don’t have a home of my own anymore – everything is in storage. It is a strange and, hopefully, a transitionary period of time. We are like migratory birds – over-wintering, but not naturalised to here.
I don’t consider myself to be overly acquisitive, as much as just feeling the need to have a home, a nest, a place to be surrounded by my own things. I like the cumulative narrative of the collected ‘stuff’. The ‘stuff’ is in some state of suspension.
The ‘Stuff’- is a unique assemblage of utensils, equipment, books, music, art, with a couple of bikes thrown in for good measure. It’s not that any one thing in itself has huge value in monetary terms – but much of it, individually and collectively carries a weight of attachment. Stuff represents the story of all the stories – friendships, occasions, celebrations, bonds between people, times and places – everything that has held us to bring us to this juncture of life. It is the collected tokens of belonging – to family, to friends, to place. It is not us – but says something about who it is we are, where we have come from, where it is we belong. But it is bunged up somewhere in a crate, or several crates, indefinitely.
Anyone following this blog may know that some weeks ago, I had ‘Bag-gate’……..a woeful whinge-fest about a freight bag I had sent ahead of myself, which went on tour (God knows where) for 35 days or so. It was delivered eventually; just the 16 days late……… I was entitled to whinge.
Not only were most of my clothes in that bag, but also small items of comfort. For example there were four very beautiful Swedish linen napkins, that are not only beautiful, but of enormous sentimental value too. There were also four small candle holders. Dining – is a ritual…. we light candles at every meal, breakfast included. I write and read, with a lit flame beside me. There were also some books and some notebooks, but that was about it. It is is modest, but significant and enough.
Nothing else in this place belongs to us – it is these small collection of things that symbolises that this is ‘home’ for the present. Apart from that – some small rituals are, perversely enough, also part of making ‘home’ home – ironing the napkins, scrubbing the kitchen sink, sweeping up, keeping a small bouquet of flowers on the table, cooking………chopping stuff – it’s domestic ‘porn’, but in a good way.
I am enjoying a level of solitude that is often hard to come by.
In the solitude the one other ritual I have is to continue to write letters. I have written 61 letters in fewer than two weeks. Averaging around 700 words a letter – that’s more than 36000 words. Every letter has been unique and to different people. The letters are also like migratory birds – and messages home – reminders of people I belong to, and reminding them, that I too belong, in some way, with them.
“Bird Nest With Egg” by Dakota Lynch – Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bird_Nest_With_Egg.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Bird_Nest_With_Egg.jpg