Now that we're back home after the most amazing of trips, bumpy re-entry included, I've realized I'm at the point where I'm completely sick of our apartment. I've lived in it so long that it's last refreshing was years ago, so the walls seem a bit crusty, the floors need refinishing, and the whole thing needs a good scrubbing. And everything about it now irritates me: the way the walls soak up cooking splatters and no amount of scrubbing seems to get rid of the telltale signs. Same goes for the bathroom walls and doors where dust combined with flying oils from my overzealous applications have created an impenetrable barrier.
Then there's the floor, a horrid parquet—I should say faux parquet—comprised of uneven pieces, meaning dust and wayward hair and fluff gets embedded around each splintery piece, making sweeping a futile exercise and walking barefoot painful. Not to mention the ear-splitting creaking that echoes every single step we take from March through November, thanks to the humidity. Speaking of humidity, it's impossible to keep the shower, especially the grout lines clean because of the dampness in the air (we're not quite at fall weather yet) and I'm so sick of cleaning so often only to have the whole place still feel dumpy.
And why is there an inch-long gap between the stove and the counter? Do you know how many crumbs and onion slivers and who knows what else have dropped into our own personal Grand Canyon? And have I mentioned our hyperactive smoke alarm? Anytime we barely sautée a bit of garlic in oil the damn thing goes off and we have to take our positions as door-waver, window-opener, frantic-pillow-beater and dish-coverer to disperse the hot air before the whole system starts spraying water every which way. You don't want to know the hysteria that ensues if God forbid one of us is alone and has to pull off all four with just two hands amidst the pelting whine.
Somewhere with clean walls, a tiled bathroom, a functional kitchen and some outdoor space that will help us feel slightly more civilized. Most people that move abroad from NYC do so because of their jobs, so they've got sweet expat deals lined up: door-to-door shipping of all their belongings with comprehensive insurance and a safety net to handle permits and taxes and connectivity and everything else that comes with getting settled in a foreign country where one doesn't speak the language.
We two are either fools to do it all on our own, or sane to do it by our own rules. I haven't decided which one just yet.
Originally I was not to be swayed from the idea that I absolutely have to take my bedroom furniture and my dishware with us. My bedroom set was a gift from my parents on my fifteenth birthday, a beautiful blonde solid oak canopy queen bed, with matching bureau, night tables, a large mirror and a bookshelf. I added on to it with a matching stand-alone jewelry armoire secreted behind a full-length mirror when I set up my first apartment, but other than that—and aside from the removal of the lace curtains hung off the canopy rails and a few scratches on the bureau and nightstands—it's remained untouched since my teen years.
When he moved here he didn't bring anything but his clothes. I already had an apartment that was kitted out. Then we moved from a studio to a 1-bedrom and bought living room furniture together: a 10-person dining table, chairs, coffee table, accent mirror, media cabinet and new flatware. Everything else, though, I had bought when I was on my own or brought from my childhood home.
Growing up we had a breakfast nook and a dining room, the former for most meals and the latter for special ones. I had a habit of taking pictures (even before digital cameras and smartphones) of those meals, capturing my mom's table settings and both her and my dad's cooking as plates heaped with good things were brought in from the kitchen. And now when I visit, there's something quite special about eating off of the same plates I ate off of for the majority of my life.
I think that's why I was so careful to select special place settings when I was setting up my first home. I had just returned from that trip to Italy that decided the rest of my life, so the Deruta set I found that was painted in Italy but fired in Portugal, seemed the perfect blending of backgrounds. I wanted to take them with us, too, but maybe we don't.
Unencumbered, with nothing weighing us down, so we can walk into a new home and make it completely ours. A fresh start, an easy move, nothing to bog us down.
Of course this is all premature thinking.
But, so far, I think I like it.