Saturday, 18 October 2008

The Corner of the Universe

(The main bath of House #6, which I shared with two guys. It wasn't so bad.)

The only place I feel that I am myself is in the shower, I once told a friend. He laughed, and then I realized what I had said. How people behave in their homes versus in public spaces is the subject of many biographies that line bookstore shelves. It’s nothing new. “Our house,” writes Gaston Bachelard, “is our corner of the universe.” On our front porches, we may play a role of some kind – concerned/nosy/noisy neighbor – but once we cross over the threshold of our houses, we can exist as we wish.

Even though I rent the place I live in, I still consider it a home. Owning the property is not the key. What matters is owning the idea of it as a home. Few people in New York City and other urban centers possess a mortgage, yet despite this fact, they’ve made where they dwell their own. My corner of the universe has been described as happy, cozy, warm. Quite different adjectives have been used to describe me in public places. “You’re cold,” one ex-boyfriend complained. He didn’t realize the “chill” was just a costume. People who know me, and more importantly, those who have sat at my table, would laugh at the thought of me as The Ice Queen.

So, if homes can affect who we are and our perspective of life, why do we spend so much time trying to make them look like the austere places we see in magazines (devoid of humanity and life) and invest little energy in their maintenance?

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