There is that trite saying – “Home is where the heart is,” but that saying means little to me. My current hometown is a relatively new one, at the Home by the Sea.
Whilst my blogger colleague, Sandy has lived in many different places in many countries, I have lived in just four cities my entire life, and all four in the same country, Australia. Three in the same state. Yet it is a different country on the other side of the globe to me, that captures what most would recognize as a feeling of home. Home: that warm fuzzy feeling of sanctuary one gets when they hear that word.
I never felt that feeling in any of my previous hometowns and don’t like to dwell too much on them, much less write about them. But there is one place that I felt completely relaxed and ‘hyggelig,’ and that was the time I spent in Denmark. Danes have such a knack for creating a comforting, cosy atmosphere in their homes that they invented a unique word to describe it. Hygge.
Growing up in Australia, I actually knew very little of Denmark and even less about the town my family came from. I had seen a photograph and read a book in 1995, but that was pretty much all. The pictures in that book were a revelation and they entranced me. From that moment, I was on a mission to figure out how I could visit that magical place and my family’s hometown.
Arriving in Denmark
I longed to visit Denmark and I’d waited and saved for years. Despite this, it seemed both corny and surprising that when that SAS aeroplane, I was seated in, touched down on the tarmac of that longed-for country, I had a strong sense of relief wash over me, a sense of coming home. Could I put that down to wishful thinking and finally reaching my goal? If so, why was I so utterly surprised at the extent of this overwhelming feeling I couldn’t get out of my head? Being there at that moment, just felt right.
DNA Memory and Research
Some think there is more to DNA memory. That you can remember certain things through the generations and heredity.
That a Grandparent or ancestor might learn a vital piece of information in their early life and you, as a grandchild or descendant might express, feel, exhibit or react to, a certain stimulus in the same way as that Grandparent might have done?
This may be what happened when I visited Denmark. Whether it was DNA, or the expression of a gene with a particular leaning towards certain environmental factors, or something else. I can’t say.
Do you have a longing to a certain place? Is it your home or is it another place in the world?
Join the Conversation with Sandy and Amanda on your hometown.
I was announcing to friends that I was to leave my inner-city lifestyle and was moving to a Home by the Sea. A Seachange is the correct word, I believe.
“What. Why?” was the plaintive responses from colleagues and friends.
“Why move further out? That’s a long commute.”
Especially when, they continued to counsel me, a sought-after, inner-city lifestyle offers heady attractions and a swathe of facilities and friends, in close proximity? And my own kids concurred.
At the first whiff of this decision, the adult children refused to be involved. They saw it as a hedonistic move to the region’s boganesque outskirts, better known as, ‘The Peninsula.’
So why did we decide to continue with a Seachange?
Because life in the city cuts both ways.
Inner City Lifestyle is Attractive
Our urban locale of many years was idyllic, or so we thought.
Picture energetic, vegan eateries and sushi trains, interspersed with Craft beer hangouts playing Indie music, to all hours. Streets lined with cafes, punctuated by glamorous shops, awash with white and taupe furnishings, selling those ludicrously expensive cushions that are positioned for looks, rather than comfort, and you’ve got a pretty good idea of my former location. Many would find that attractive.
I have to admit the inner city life was swanky and practical. I had only a short walk to public transport, of all kinds, and a multitude of library and shopping options, as well as bakeries or gourmet restaurants, so close, that I’d never had to worry about squashing the bread or drinking and driving the car home.
So I had to ask myself again, why did I want to leave?
Because, it seemed. there was a niggling discontent in my heart.
I had begun to notice the downsides to urban living and they were becoming more and more bothersome, the closer I got to retirement age. I needed a change.
But wait. I began to hesitate.
Did I really want to give up work and this urban lifestyle right now, given that one’s work and financial contribution to society forms a large part of our identity?
I had to think this through properly and reassess what I’d really miss and what might be a potential deal-breaker. Was I ready for Retirement and a Seachange? It was a big move!
Weighing Up the Pros and Cons of Hipster Life in the City
Point #1 – Endless Facilities
City living is an ongoing adrenaline rush and offers many opportunities, but it also results in an expanding waistline and other First-World Problems that triggers a level of guilt, in me, one I wasn’t entirely happy with.
I had to admit Triple-shot Macchiatos or Banh Mi Market Breakfasts with Almond smoothies, at the local markets, were really fun but also the chief suspects in my increasing girth.
Those lovely market stalls one browses, on Sunday mornings, you know the ones that feature lovely handmade items, or organic Kombucha with a Turmeric and Kale chaser and a pulled pork bun, are very hipster, but as I wasn’t exercising too much, (I dislike aerobic exercise), you can have too much of a good thing. Diet and health concerns were not the only pressure.
Add to this, I felt indulgent. This consumerist lifestyle felt privileged and wasteful, considering how much poverty, need and homelessness exists in the world. There had to be something better that aligned more with my twilight years.
Point #2 (Or should I call it: bothersome fact #2?) – Noise, Busy Roads and Traffic
There were loads of new facilities, medical centres, shops, gyms and pilates studios opening every other week in the inner city districts. However, the incessant noise from the construction was something I wasn’t getting used to. Quite the contrary, my sleep was disturbed more and more with each passing month. Sleep deprivation is the kind of torture that one can’t abide when the childbearing years are far behind you, so the noise did nothing to foster a jolly mood.
Couple this issue with two near-miss incidents with myself and heavy machinery, plus a workman’s vehicle swerving towards me, both happening at pedestrian crossings near home, were other imperatives to move to a quieter area. (Twice in one week, I was nearly run over simply crossing the road to follow the concreted footpath!)
The horse and buggy style of those dated inner-city alleys and streets, that no cat worth his salt would be found swinging in, are all very quaint when you are a pioneer in the early 19th century, but crossing the street after 6am in 2020 was akin to having a death wish.
And, don’t get me started on the lack of on, or off-street, parking. That was Point #3.
Point #4 – Sharing Space with a Growing Population Density
Exercise in the inner city constituted a 30-minute stroll in the morning down a popular shared bike and pedestrian path. Early morning walks here, had recently become a dance with death as teams of hardcore, professional cycling enthusiasts, festooned in their all-too-revealing-bodysuits notoriously rode at that same time, and usually three abreast.
Some would forget to ring their bell as a warning of their impending presence and I’d stumble to maintain my balance and calm my frightened dog, as they swished past in a blur of lycra, shouting, “Move – it’s a bikeway,” in a range of accents, or offer a very defiant ‘finger,’ if I didn’t move to let them pass.
Despite all of this, it was the bruises that finally cemented my decision to sell and move to the Home by the Sea.
Point #5 – Small Rooms
In particular, the bruises incurred when my toe, or shin, connected clumsily with the bed-posts in the small inner-city Townhouse that I had down-sized to, as a potential retirement home. Low maintenance it was, but Townhouse living was going to be problematic.
Every room in my ultra-modern townhouse was so small, so confined, that it meant kicking my toe or shin, on the corner of the bed, vanity or chair, became a daily event. It might have been cute, compact and a breeze to clean, but there’s always a trade-off, isn’t there?
It was clear that I needed somewhere with a tad more space.
Not only that, but the family dog agreed with me.
Point #6 – Limited Yard for Pets
The small courtyard at the Townhouse gave the family dog no place to bury a bone, nor conduct her usual border patrol for illegal animal infiltrators. Her job, she thought, was to protect the premises from the likes of lizards, cats, Ibis or random Scrub Turkeys. The small astro-turfed courtyard just didn’t cut it, for my Princess.
A Home by the Sea
So weighing up the odds, we decided to move.
In complete contrast to Townhouse life, the Schnauzer loves her new home that has a small to medium L-shaped grassy yard. Now she can choose whether to sun herself or roll around in delight on the soft, green grass.
A bit like me really.
Retirement and the Pandemic
The Covid pandemic may have meant I retired a little prematurely, but more importantly, it has given me time to walk the dog, enjoy early mornings on the beach and not have to rush off to work, in busy commuter traffic.
To date, I have not sustained any bruises from the furniture in my new home by the sea!
A seemingly unending blue sky, fresh sea air, a comforting quietness as well as new places and friends to discover, has me feeling relaxed and content with no time constraints and nothing to do, but enjoy the rest of my life.
A day or so ago, an email arrived in my inbox which shook me up. Not initially of course, but as you will soon discover, people can be unpredictable as can our reactions. The email was from the property agent advising me that an unnamed person and their property representative wanted to, nay – were about to- enter our home as our property had been identified as one said unnamed person, would like to purchase.
Rather an unexpected interruption to our normal Saturday morning routine, to say the least. Particularly as we rent the home and have a rental agreement that has not yet expired. I also hasten to add that this property is not on the market for sale, and the owner had no plans to sell before this stranger approached him, especially given that we had, a couple of months before, negotiated and signed off on a longer lease. He had actually asked us to sign on for at least another year.
Now, as I said, initially I was a little taken aback about the email, what with receiving little more than 24 hours notice of this unexpected intrusion, but I did appreciate being advised beforehand, at least. I was not required to give permission for this “entry,”at all. It was an advice, not a request!
However, there seemed little chance I could have denied the entry, as the property manager stated we did not have to be at home at all and the strangers would enter regardless. It is true, I do not own this property, I merely rent it. However, all the contents are mine and I do pay good money to live here- more than most around, and in return, I expect that I can quietly enjoy residing under this roof.
What I didn’t expect was my own extreme reaction to this visit.
Perhaps I may not have had such a reaction if the prospective buyer was, at least, a little humble or respectful? Clearly, humility was a lesson this stranger had missed at school.
Upon her arrival, Mrs ‘I am Used to Getting my Way’, bustled into my home, her family in tow, completely ignoring me as she walked past, as if I was some invisible, enslaved home help, completely peripheral to her consideration. [I know – that is SOOO judgemental, but bare with me, as I AM writing this in retrospect.]
Perhaps I should have stopped the rest of her family at the door, and given permission for just one person to enter, with the rep, as per the entry notice?
I don’t know.
My head started spinning with a range of thoughts.
Perhaps I should have followed her around? Is that polite or allowed?
Prone to ‘worst case scenario’ my thinking was immediately: Who knows if her child might have decided to pocket my jewellery or valuables as they sifted through our rooms, one after the other? These days we have to beware of all kinds of scams and who we open our door to, but then I decided I was being far too paranoid.
The MOTH wasn’t on hand, either. He had taken the polite option of scurrying off for a walk with the growling Miniature Schnauzer, which to be truthful, would never bite. Our dear little girl does, however, sound a lot like a cross between the death metal band, Slipknot and the character Regan in the creepy movie, The Exorcist, to any stranger that darkens our doorstep. [you have been warned]. I decided to make myself scarce out in the garden, with one ear directed to the goings on, inside.
The lady’s first comment on entering our premises was a condescending –
“Oh – it’s so small.”
To which the Real estate agent, intent on securing a sales commission or spotter’s fee, entered damage control:
“Well,” he said, collecting his thoughts.
“It really comes down to how much furniture a person has.”
Do I have too much furniture? I thought, suddenly questioning myself.
The next step in Mrs Stranger’s inspection offensive was to order her daughter to get out the tape measure and to measure the dimensions of the rooms and plan out the furniture placement and layout for their new home! This took some time.
Vocal criticism of our “settings” periodically burst forth from her mouth, like the water spilling over Niagara falls.
“You wouldn’t have THAT lamp.” And-“That chair doesn’t go THERE,“ she continued unabated.
I was, by then, a little aghast.
She had barely been inside for more than five to ten minutes. As the whole group continued with their inspection, I wondered if they had indeed been checking out our property during the last week or so?
Suddenly, I felt vulnerable and chided myself for not hiding any valuables that might lay trustingly about. And Mr Real Estate didn’t really supervise them either, standing casually with his hands crossed behind his back near the door.
I also began to feel as though my privacy had been violated. An extreme reaction – maybe, but it seems one really has few rights as a tenant to secure a rental property and rest comfortable in the knowledge that you don’t have to continually lock away any valuables, given that strangers may enter a rental property on an email and little more than 24 hours notice.
What if we had been away on holidays and not able to check email?
When Mrs ‘World is MY Oyster Stranger,’ disappeared into the garage, I took the opportunity to slip upstairs. Some time later, I overhead the conversation in the living room to be something like,
“Well, naturally, I’ll be wanting a second inspection before submitting an offer [to buy],“to which the real estate rep enthusiastically agreed.
He then finally mentioned us.
“There is the small matter of the current tenants – but they won’t be here for much longer.”
I gulped! – WHAT?
We had in fact, recently extended our lease with the landlord until our new house, the [Home by the Sea], was completed.
Mrs ‘World is My Oyster Stranger/potential Narcissist’ pounced on this piece of information.
“Oh,” she said with an authoritative rising tone,
“Well, I’ll just rent it.”
Now, I am not sure if she meant she was planning to rent our house out to others, or for herself to become the new tenant, but the real estate rep clearly, like me, took the comment to mean the latter.
“Why would you do that?” he worryingly asked – (seeing his commission as water swirling down the drain-hole).
Some whispering then took place that I was not privy to, and in any case, my mind started spinning. It seemed unfair that someone could roam around the suburb where I live, pick out a place that took her fancy, eye it over and within a little over 24 hours, have gained somewhat unsupervised entry, under a whim that she might make an offer to buy, (or rent), this or any property, just as she wished, without any regard for the folk who might be/were PAYING a fee, to live in that premises?
Please tell me if this is a completely unfounded, knee-jerk reaction that is founded in insecurity? If so, I will back off.
I defintely need some objective perspectives here from the blogosphere.
Tenants’ Rights – Something I’ll be Pondering About
But the MOTH – The ‘Man About the House’ – is frustrated!
If you haven’t heard of Marie Kondo, it may be that you don’t have a TV set or haven’t stepped inside a bookshop, of late. Marie Kondo, a Japanese lady, advocates the Kon-Mari method of Organization. Through her TV show and book titled, “The Life-changing Magic of Tidying,” Marie has brought a new wave of organizational and tidying techniques to the world.
Marie’s particular brand of household magic involves a range of vertical storage solutions, lots of folding strategies, and sorting one’s possessions into certain categories. The central tenet behind her de-cluttering techniques is to hold each item in turn, to one’s heart, whilst asking yourself the question, “Does this item spark joy in me? ” If the answer is yes, the item is kept; if the answer is no – the item is gratefully thanked for its job in one’s life, and then promptly ditched.
I began to read Marie’s book and then this happened –
Like a thrift shop’s sorting table, this was a scene from my house shortly after I started to read Marie’s book.
Around about that time my husband started to “lose” things.
I was reading Marie’s book and he was uttering a variety of indignant lamentations.
“Where is that hard drive I left on the desk,” he demanded, as I perused Chapter 3. Midway through reading Chapter 5, he asked me, “..Those batteries I had beside the TV, what’s happened to them?” By the closing chapter of Marie’s book, the crescendo of laments had reached a point of desperation, “Just where ARE my shoes?” he cried.
(They’d been moved to their new ‘spot,’ of course, at the bottom of his wardrobe).
I have to say Marie: – Because of you, papers are now never left to pile up on desks; shoes are regularly moved from under beds and chairs, and miscellaneous items are no longer stored, “to hand”, as a visual reminder.
But the MOTH cannot find anything because it is packed away neatly in cupboards and drawers, in places he never looks! So, he is definitely not happy with Marie.
Marie is also to blame for the careful rolling and folding of every piece of clothing I own. She’s responsible for the discarding of lots of my unused “stuff.” It is also, though, her fault for my having increased capacity in storage cupboards; a strong ability to locate those less frequently used items faster, and even to blame for me being capable of selecting coordinates in a blink of the eye.
For Marie is right.
A lot of that “stuff,” we accumulate over time, sits at the back of storage cupboards, and will most likely never be worn, or used.
Then there’s that feeling of guilt I no longer have for buying extra clothes, or purchasing things I won’t always use. Prior to reading Marie’s book, I used to admonish my daughter for throwing out so many new-ish clothes and goods, in so short a time after their purchase, thinking her a wee bit wasteful.
I am was a big up-cycling and recycling advocate, who could always find another use for any item. To throw out clothes that might be re-fashioned was akin to sacrilege.
But Marie believes that tidying and de-cluttering is a way of taking stock and finding out what we really do like. And Marie’s advice is spot on when she stated many of those so called ‘rescued and re-fashioned items would simply accumulate in storage, only to be thrown out years later, without ever being up-cycled.
Well, I did recycle a few items from my stash, but probably much less than half, I have to admit.
Where does this feeling of wanting to buy and keep material goods come from?
After spending a lifetime tidying and honing tidying into a fully fledged international business, Marie has an explanation for this behaviour. Marie says:-
We amass material things for the same reason we eat – to satisfy a craving. She insists that through tidying and de-cluttering, people come to know contentment.
Marie’s method is a way of respecting and organizing our possessions, caring for them and appreciating what we have and what we choose to keep. By employing the Kon-Mari method, Marie frees us from the burden of accumulating more and more ‘stuff,’ and in this way, tidying becomes a a life-changing experience.
And what happens to the MOTH’s shoes now that I have finished the book?
They are still placed neatly under the chair, each evening.
I guess Marie should address MOTHS in her next book.
31 Days of Free Writing and today’s topic is ‘Home’
Home is Sanctuary, where relaxation, happiness and contentment reign supreme, or what many of us aspire to.
It isn’t always like that but we cling to this ideal as essential as oxygen.
Home can be the site of domestic violence, home can be a country plagued by war.
Home can be riddled with financial woes or emotional worries.
Home can be warm and loving and a place to be your real self, without any hats.
Home can be children running and giggling, playing without care, and later a gaggle of electronic devices with humans attached! Home can be elderly parents reminiscing in front of the ‘tele’ about the good ‘ol days, knitting or doing crosswords.
Home is a garden with green grass and lush plants and flowers, a swimming pool.
Home is memories good and bad.
Home is in the land down under, yet I went HOME when I returned to Denmark!