Tuesday, 24 March 2009

The Good in Goodwill

(Our dogs get along, so why can't we?)

"We respect a style that can move us away from what we fear and towards what we crave: a style which carries the correct dosage of our missing virtues." - Alain DeBotton, The Architecture of Happiness

If you haven't heard, I'm moving to Atlanta (which makes move number eleven.) I've been living alone in Oxford for the last year and have enjoyed it. I hang pink curtains without protest, obsessively clean without being called neurotic and never have to hear the drone of a television because I choose not to own one.

My relocation to Atlanta presents a situation which many of us have experienced: moving into another person's home. It's terrifying and exciting at the same time. In my case, it's the home of my boyfriend. In the past, I've lived with women who eventually become friends, but either way the emotions of sharing a space are similar.

How can we learn to better live with each other? I read last night that the sharing of a meal is one of the most important ways to nurture relationships between people who live together. I think of many of the meals I shared with Katy, my housemate who recently
married and moved to France. Bowls of pasta and salad provided the canvas for conversation about love, happiness, and dreams. The same goes for Chris, who like me, prefers to stay at home and cook. At home, there's no competition from clanging dishes and loud diners.

Learning to like what we contribute to our homes is another story. At first, Katy didn't love the art I hung around the house we shared, but it grew on her. I wasn't enamored with her futon but it became a cozy place for me to sleep when my bedroom was too cold. We grew to appreciate the things each other loved, and today, I miss her French memorabilia that covered the house.

Alain DeBotton asks, "Why do we change our minds about what we find beautiful?"

The answer: We learn to appreciate another person's contribution to our world. If you don't adore something, see it with a fresh pair of eyes. (And if all else fails, there is always Goodwill.)

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