Apologies for yet another extended absence, my dear Skirtistas, but I have spent the last couple of weeks frantically searching for a new home. Again.
I had a revelation recently: I finally came to the understanding that I feel my home is an extension of myself. My home isn’t just a place to eat and sleep and store stuff, It is the most important thing in my life. When my home is unsettled, then I am unsettled.
I think many people feel that their home is a refuge, a place removed from all troubles. I certainly count myself among them. My home is a sanctuary, a port in a storm, a secret garden. However, this attitude requires some negotiation when sharing a home with others: if I feel like somebody is invading my garden I can become quite obstreperous, even if they, as my roommates, actually have a legitimate right to be there. I do realize objectively that I have a tendency to be, shall we say, overly particular about my living space, but there are certain things I am just not willing to compromise on regardless of who I’m sharing with.
So what happened was, basically, my former housemates wanted to live in a style that I most certainly did not want to share. I’ve just started the third and final year of my PhD; I do not have time to mess around trying to tutor people in the basic courtesies of communal living, let alone make them aware of the extra peace and quiet and consideration that graduate students need if you don’t want them to snap and drop a bookshelf full of titles like “Who Sings the Nation-State?: Language, Politics, Belonging”, “Sex, Sexuality and the Anthropologist” and “Belly Dance: Orientalism, Transnationalism and Harem Fantasy” on you. (Note: those are all real books that I actually own.)
My favorite part of moving out was realizing what a wonderful group of friends I’ve managed to gather around myself here. When I decided to move (very shortly after the professional working girl in the house moved out and a second undergraduate student moved in, if you get my drift) I sent an urgent missive to basically everyone I knew in Exeter asking if anyone knew of a suitable place. If there was ever a time to activate the phone tree, this was that time. My friends really came through—people I barely knew sent along words of encouragement, offers of temporary housing until I could land on my feet, and bunches of suggestions. You’ll have to excuse the soppiness because my heart was actually warmed by how quickly and generously people responded. As a result of all that I felt buoyed up, confident that the perfect thing would come along in short order.
And it did! I’m now living with a friend of mine, a Classics student also in the third year of his PhD, and our elderly landlady. I feel a bit like I’ve moved in with my grandma—she keeps trying to feed me and she’s forever asking if I’m warm enough. The house has a big back garden and is settled on a quiet, leafy street not far from the University.
It’s a real house, by which I mean it is full of a lifetime’s worth of personal objects, furniture, textiles, artworks and all such things that make the personality of the owner obvious. When I first looked at the place I was afraid this would make me feel uncomfortable, like I was a permanent guest in somebody else’s space. But in reality this kind of groundedness is exactly what I want in my life, and something I haven’t had in a while. Plus, with two third-year PhD students around, the place is as quiet and focused as a mime school for Trappist monks.
So now I’m cheerfully settling in to the new place, and I feel like I’m coming back to the straight and narrow path after some rocky, winding diversions. I can actually start working on my PhD again–remember that?–something I haven’t even looked at in about two weeks! Hopefully my newfound tranquility will also mean more consistent blogging on my part (bad writer!) though on that score I can make no promises…
(And by the way, I’d like to point out that I spent nearly an hour writing the first version of this blog on Tuesday and then when I was nearly finished the page refreshed for no apparent reason and SWALLOWED the whole thing. Pants.)