A place to call home

In August of last year, I relocated from Poland to Belgium. It was my third time coming back to Brussels, with the hope to finally make my stay permanent. The latest decade of my life is undeniably linked to this city which I call, without hesitation, my home. This relationship is an ongoing developing story.

Except for a geographical location and the known fact that home is where the heart is ( a few words on this), the starting point towards making a home is having a roof over your head. A house from where the transformation journey can begin.

The happiness of being once again reunited with my beloved Brussels diminished under the weight of house hunting and the limitations imposed by my budget. My disappointment grew bigger with each visit. I do not know the rental market in other big cities or capitals (I guess Brussels is cheaper than Paris and London), but the search transformed into a real scavenger hunt. With all the precautions imposed by a pandemic, I stepped into typical maison de maitre houses craving for their past glory but standing tall and proud. Houses that could tell survival stories if only restored. I left them with a heavy heart asking myself why a landlord cannot see further than the size of his wallet (or bank account). I visited apartments blocks ranging from the interwar period to newer ones of the sixties. The very new ones were out of my reach. I have met real estate agents eager to herd as many potential clients in a filthy one-room apartment, landlords smiling mischievously hearing that I work for a big organisation, and tenants not giving a f**k about the dirt they comfortably embraced as normal. It took around forty visits to find a nice, affordable, clean apartment. The decision to rent it was immediate. I was relieved of the searching burden and I thought I could finally focus on making the new place, my home.

The joy of the relocation and the enthusiasm of the newfound crib didn’t last for long. The noisy – sleepless – careless neighbours forced me to decide to move, again (somehow this fitted into the 2020 movie). So, with half of my things in boxes and the other essential half in use, the hunt for an apartment started again. This time during winter and right from the first day of 2021. Keeping the criteria established during the first round, I added what became the crucial one: top floor apartment.

After three weeks of intense evaluations, of weighing the pros and cons of the areas, and late visits in apartments that had no light-bulbs, I decided to rent a duplex. The last two floors of one well maintained Brussels house. In theory, all should go well. Please keep your fingers crossed. Operation let’s move again will start in two weeks. Will come with an update.

In the end, what is the point of all this? Finding a place to call home.

In Romania, we use to say that man consecrates the land. In (almost) all places I had to step in, the reality could not have been farther from it. Or maybe it was like in the proverb and I refused to acknowledge it. I could tell from the main entrance and the staircase not to expect to find a place that I could make my home. Sometimes the heavy odours were warning signs. I saw neglect and disinterest mixed with dirt; all very high- priced.

It is up to each person to bless the place where she/he/it lives.

The houses become a reflection of the souls they protect within their walls. A part of our vital energy is transferred to everything we touch. We allow traces of our being to be imprinted in the closest surroundings. I am a firm believer that there is an intimate connection between the hosting environment (houses) and ourselves. The way we care for the protective shell we call home will be a reflection of our character and a measure of self-love. And this is independent of the available financial means.

To exemplify I will rely on my beloved grandmothers. Both lived in small villages, occupying modest homes, without running water. Both houses were spotless and colourful. Both homes were the image of my grandmothers. Simple, welcoming, clean, and warm. Inviting you in and making you wish to stay longer than foreseen.

So, I wonder, is there any excuse for what I saw? I might be harsh and my words sound judgemental, but I cannot tolerate indifference towards the place we live in. It will make me extend the image towards the indweller. I can understand a house where things are all over the place, but I cannot accept a dirty one.

Our homes are our earthy sanctuaries. They deserve respect, dedication, and love. And by home I intend the place we live in, day by day. Especially during a pandemic, nesting has become more important than ever. The way we treat ourselves will echo into our houses, and our houses will send back the positive, comforting vibes we all need right now. Our homes are the retreats we turn to every single day for finding the energy to help us keep going.

I made all the places I rented so far, my homes. I brought in my personal touch. Even the most modest studio got a positive aura and was transformed into a palace. With the paintings mom dedicated to me, with the pictures of my family and closest friends, with my books, and all the small nothings I gathered from my travels. Yes, for sure I can live without all of these, but I do not want to. I did all that I could to surround myself with beauty knowing that it will elevate my spirits.

My grandmothers were weaving traditional carpets or knitting blankets. Mom was a graceful, talented painter and a sewing ace. What was coming out of their skillful hands was not only practical but also pretty, pleasing the eye. They were beautifying their space and life. I do not have their magic hands, nor their talent, but I did inherit a bit of their sense of harmony and style. It will be a pity not to let the aesthetic taste manifest. Our homes are the perfect spaces where it can express.

We all can bring a bit of grace into this world. We do not need to make grand gestures. Our homes are the canvases at hand. A clean fresh colorful curtains, a new fluffy carpet, a teapot that you fancy. We can bring on with confidence all those small details that make a big difference.

What we put out into the private, personal universe of our homes, will come back to us. We will be immersed in cosiness, warmth, a sense of security, beauty, and charm.

How will I know the new leased house is a place to call home? When all my books will be placed on the shelves and all my family photos will be on display. That’s how I will know I am finally home.

And you?

Enjoy the comfort of your homes.

Lots of love,

Sharing Simple Words

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