Home, Place or Person
‘That’s not where Liz lives’ our friends from Denmark had remarked when they passed by my house for the first time, only to ring our doorbell thirty minutes later, because, yes, that was where I lived.
It was a simple remark and an honest mistake, but it has stuck with me. Because I agree: this house does not look like something I would live in. The streets here are filled with homes like mine, some are exactly the same, some are close in design, but they’re all pretty similar.
A Dutch politician recently spoke about the poor state of modern architecture and that streets like the one I live on, actually cause higher levels of stress. I have no way of verifying this, but I can imagine it to be true.
While browsing through sites with houses for sale, I’m often drawn to older homes that have a lot of personality from themselves. I liked one, especially with many smaller rooms and lower ceilings. It was absolutely unpractical, but it looked cosy and attractive. My current house is modern. It has big rooms, high ceilings, and a broad staircase. It’s absolutely practical, but it has very little to no personality. Yes, that’s something you need to add yourself, but I’m not the best at decorating, so especially the ground floor is still bare in design.
Bricks and Mortar
Coming from the lower end of middle-class society, I have always lived in rental houses. They were always cheap and not that well maintained. I have moved house around fourteen times, all throughout the country. I have never felt bound to one house in particular. Home is just where my stuff is at that moment in time. Like my husband says: it’s only a bunch of rocks.
Home for me right now consists of two things: my cats and my room. The place where I walk in and my cats greet me is definitely my home. I have lived without pets a couple of times in my life, but I don’t think I could do it again. They breathe life into a house. Yes, they make messes too, but they bring so much love and cuddles that that more than makes up for it. I love it when they choose to come up to me and ask for cuddles or want to lie on my lap. Their love makes me feel rich.
My favourite spot in my house is my room. It’s the smallest room in the house, but it’s all mine. It’s where my computer is, where I do all my writing and where I relax by playing video games. It holds a desk with my computer, a book closet, two small cupboards and a couch. I have Victoria Frances pictures on the walls, so I’m surrounded by dragons. I have several stuffed toys here too, like unicorns, a bat and more dragons. My desk seems cluttered, but it isn’t for me. I know where everything is, and it feels like it all has a purpose. What was added to my room this year, were mementoes given to me by friends I met at the munch, ranging from stickers, a handwritten note to a stuffed unicorn. They mean so much to me.
Surrounded by Cats
Often enough, when I’m working in my room, all of my four cats join me here. Of course, there are several cushions and cat beds for them. I feel honoured that they enjoy being around me so much that they prefer to sleep in my presence over sleeping in my husband’s room or downstairs in the living room.
My room is my sanctuary. It’s where I feel safe. It’s where I can truly be me. The door is always open, because of my cats, but it’s still all mine. It’s the only room in the house that’s genuinely homely and ‘gezellig’. Cluttered maybe, with many knick-knacks, but it does have personality.
So no, I’m not bound to my house. It’s a good house, and with today’s housing market, we’re not looking to buy another one right now, but the personality of the building doesn’t fit me. I need something that fits me better, that’s not so run of the mill. I want something unique, I guess. But ‘special’ always comes with its own price tag, so I’m not sure we’ll ever be able to afford a house like that. And it’s going to be hard for me to give up my room. I love having my own place, somewhere I can withdraw to. But I know I can settle anywhere, as long as my husband and my cats are with me.