Friday, March 8, 2019

Comforted nest

The sound of heavy rain woke me up this morning, and instantly I knew, winter only stepped out for a quick smoke to return in full force. I am expecting snowstorms. In the past two weeks though, Zurich graced us with marvelous spring weather (in the middle of February!). Caf├ęs all around the city were eager to bring their service out on the terrace, thus, swiftly becoming overcrowded with smiles beaming behind designer sunglasses; I could even spot teenagers in shorts and t-shirts at the skate park, obviously thrilled — and brave enough — to skip seasons. I, too, was elated to strip down to accommodate the power of the sun, replacing my coat with my beloved black leather jacket. It lasted a minute. Notwithstanding, instead of frowning upon the resurgence of darker, colder days, I reveled in the sudden gratification. I embraced the day. I was a creature of the moment. 

I believe one of the nicest human experiences is to visit someone’s home for the first time, and in less than a month, I was invited into the lovely kingdom of four even lovelier people. One of my closest recently moved into his new loft. With one, we finally decided to eat in in lieu of roaming around town to search for food gems. Up until last Sunday, I only had to pick this friend up so I was simply a regular of her front building. Sooner, or rather later, I rang his doorbell. Though we had known each other for nearly three years, it felt right to shake things up. Funnily enough, I did not necessarily plan to squeeze in ‘these visits’ in such a short amount of time — and each time, to witness this other side of people I am actually most fond of, melted my heart like butter.  

I am one curious gal. Not in a nosey way, not in a prying way, hopefully not in an intrusive way — but yes, absolutely in a cocky way. Home, if anything, is a life museum. Personal. Exclusive. Howbeit the reality that we might recognize a thing or two from our common giant supplier IKEA -- unique. Every picture frame lets you dive in a field of memories. The bookshelf, or lack thereof, is a walk through a person’s mind. The painting on the wall is their message to their own world. The furniture, the decoration, the creativity, the details. I like to scrutinize. I will ask questions... because all things considered, how someone ornaments his/her private space is, for me, the crown into the depths of an individual. We are at our most relaxed at home. At our most intimate. At our most raw. And even though that I may know someone for years, there is such newness to tiptoeing in my host’s comfort zone. It sparks joy. 

I have the impression that households around the globe, in a snap, got besotted with the delightful Marie Kondo, expert organizer, declutter ambassador, and true to form, a real joy sparker. The catchphrase works. She was completely off my radar until Netflix released her series, however, now I cannot get rid of her (pun intended.) I see articles everywhere. She has become topic number one at dinner parties. She was invited to the Oscars. A worldwide phenomenon, and with good reason — I adore her. Like millions of people since the beginning of January, I also felt the need to konmari the insides of my four walls. It is a lot of work, time-consuming, energy-draining; but it has also been such a majestic experience. I am not nearly done; yet what I have achieved so far, such as a methodical make-up area, a library that is not only alluring but functional and a kitchen worthy of a Michelin chef, is bliss. I am still afraid to attack my closet, for everyone who has met me appreciates that clothes are a sacred matter to me. But so random. Oh-so full. My outfits will be exhilarated to be konmari-d. 

I have moved around since the day I was born, it is a fact, my family was carrying boxes to the new flat when my mother had to go into labor. With her being in the foreign service, I had the immense privilege of living the expat life long before the term was even coined; and until my parents’ retirement in 2016, home to me was always but a state of mind. I would not have it any other way. Sure, Zurich has been my base for the last decade — but the feeling of being ‘between houses’ only settled when I settled here. And only here. Geneva was home. Stockholm was home. Berlin was home. Oslo was home. Brussels was home. Zurich is home and today, there is no home-away-from-home to go to — not as often at least. If only I could fly to the Philippines every other weekend. In this respect, I did not give a lot of importance to a ‘fancy’ apartment for the simple reason that home equaled to being on the road. Finally, I invested in a magnificent bed. I bought the suitable closet. I chose my writer’s desk wisely. No offense to IKEA (though it feels like it, huh?), it is not quality but personality it lacks; my next buys — a grand dining table, chairs that do not hurt my butt after twenty minutes, a chic couch — will say a lot about me. When you change cities every couple of years, ultimately, home was in the furniture. I can be picky now. I am at a stage of my life where I want to make myself at home. 

Over the weekend, a long-time friend stirred a little whirlwind. ‘Look, Nicole, people will settle for anything unless they define — legitimately, point-blank, honest-to-God define what they desire. But as soon as they take a good look at the future — the one they create for themselves; and work hard enough, are patient enough — have enough faith, they will attract it; because that would leave no room for anything else.’ Noise-canceling. Standards met. No more mediocre coffee. A cheap pass at someone done and over. Marie Kondo’s slogan is to let go of things that do not spark joy. It is hard to let go. We continuously put it all in the storage room, keep clothes in the closet that were not worn since 2008 and pile up — piled up so much shit (let us be candid here); but there is indeed such a liberating process in tidying your home, and life, konmari style. I moved so often that you would think I would be her disciple by default. Wrong. Far from it. I carry my baggage, and hold on even though it no longer serves its purpose. I just bought a brand new colander. 

This morning, the sound of heavy rain woke me up violently — I smiled. I do not desperately miss the sun when it is hiding behind dark clouds like I used to. Good times come and go, bad times also come and go; nevertheless, what stays, what should remain, is a comforted nest. Where I am at my most comfortable. At my most intimate. At my most raw. In my own home. In my own skin. It is time to be picky. There will be no room for things, people --  has-beens -- that do not spark joy. This, my friend, is my life museum.