I live alone in an apartment I affectionately refer to as the Shoebox. I have roughly 700 square feet of coziness, smells, and colors, just one floor above a friend who used to work with me and is now my landlord.
On a cold December day in 2020, seven good friends brought their pickup trucks to supplement the carrying capacity of a U-Haul truck I rented for the occasion. It was a short move–roughly a dozen miles–but few could understand my vision for injecting my half of what formerly occupied nearly 2,000 square feet into such a modest new place. It took us all day to unload, but I was determined to have everything unpacked and organized by the following Friday.
Most confounding was an executive desk that I have little business having. It is as big as the president’s in the Oval Office, and it has a leather-top surface. My mother bought it for me when I closed on a home over a decade ago. That place had a study.
In my current apartment, I had to sacrifice my living room so I could have my study. I jammed my barrister bookshelves on either side of the window behind my desk.
As I sit in my tight cockpit typing this, I look off to the left, where a nook contains a wingback chair next to my old stereo and my late grandfather’s collection of vinyl records.
Ahead and to my right, I found room for a comfortable futon (burgundy–my favorite color) and a small bar.
Much of my art is in storage, but what I can fit in this place includes some oil paintings given to me by my late cousin, who owned a gallery on Lake Garda in Bardolino, Italy; a special music-inspired bas-relief in bronze that my mother gave me; a piece by a friend from Pennsylvania; and works by my wonderful aunts from Connecticut, who also gave me an old framed advertisement for Absinthe Robette, which hangs over my bar. Everything has meaning and sentiment for me.
My kitchen is all I need it to be, though small. I can cook anything I want, from a sixteen-pound turkey to paella to coq au vin to a good old steak frites. My kitchen table seats four, but when more guests arrive, I put boards across my desk to make a formal dining room out of my study.
And there is always music–classical when I am alone, salsa when my one friend visits, jazz for another, and Dave Matthews for yet another.
There is literature on my solitary weeknights, coffee and the Times crossword on Saturday morning, classic movies and a big bowl of popcorn later that evening, and french toast and opera on Sunday morning.
Just before this past Christmas, I learned I had recently been exposed to someone who had come down with Covid. I canceled my holiday plans in order to quarantine until I could get an appointment for an antigen test–which took a week due to the Omicron surge. I spent seven glorious days alone gazing at my Christmas tree, cooking more food than I could comfortably eat, watching sentimental holiday films, reading Charles Dickens, and listening to songs of the season. But for my morning walks, I spent the week indoors, gloriously alone and deeply contented.
A home can be a special world for a soul who values it. My most treasured memories are connected in some way to a home–either one where I lived or one where I was made to feel welcome.
There is no place more important than a home. Not everybody has one. Wherever I may live, I will always value mine.