Last Night In NoHo
I type this on an empty desk. Even the drawers have been removed. The art on our walls has all been taken down and transported in car trips. The holes from screw anchors and picture hangers were all spackled over, sanded and painted by Shane yesterday. Back to a blank canvas for the next inhabitants. The wifi cut itself off an hour ago... I'll be posting this via T-Mobile hotspot.
We've only lived here in Valley Village/NoHo for a year and change. But this place has a piece of my heart. It signals our first 'upgrade' from whatever we can find. After a full decade of sublets and leases in New York and LA, my standards have certainly risen. I stopped trying to share single occupancy rooms in my Vancouver days. I started hoping for balconies or even rooftop access pretty early on. LA came with newer buildings, parking structures, central air, and more standard balconies. Pools started fitting into my price range. That was pretty monumental. When we first moved to LA, Shane and I had everything we owned in a couple of suitcases. We splurged for an IKEA mattress, sheet set, and duvet in our first week... and everything else had to come gradually. I was daydreaming about billowy curtains and tiny lighting accents. We had a tupperware full of crystals that got some suspicious looks at airport security, and a $7 lamp from K Mart that was our bedroom's only light source for a while (overhead lights in California apartments are rare). Our first plant was from the grocery store across the street. We named him Apollo, and it took him a while to settle in and grow without hesitation.
Now, we have 3 years worth of gradual purchases, big and small. We have LED strips and kitchen gadgets from Shane's bachelor pad in Japan. We have a sh*t ton of homemade wood shelving and surfaces, some of them sturdier than others. We have framed art from friends and impulse night market buys, a pull out couch that took a while to pay off (and was epically worth it), and a lot more plants we have complex relationships with. We have a shared sense of design and space preference. We have coffee mugs to commemorate many seasons of our lives together; we have a brand new KitchenAid mixer in 'aqua sky' that reminds me of a restored classic Cadillac; and we have that same sheet set we picked out at IKEA over 3 years ago... a smoky grey that's starting to fade.
I used to be so overwhelmed by home goods. Everything seemed so expensive, and time consuming to pick out, often to only be disappointing in quality and durability. What really overwhelmed me was making furniture/room design choices with other people, because I was worried my taste was bad, or I would end up with things I didn't really like. Well, it turns out that slowly filling your living space with practical tools and little touches that speak to you, is a source of delicious joy, as well as collaboration, creativity, and self awareness. You start to notice the trends you align with and the things that make you sentimental, the colors and textures that align with your heart, and the ways to be gentle and tidy with every space... because nothing stays forever. You learn to balance purchases with purges. You get excited to DIY and rearrange, and, if you're lucky, your friends are artists and their housewarming gifts become priceless pieces that personalize every move.
I know I am incredibly lucky to be here... to have the many decent living situations I've had and to be moving to an even more beautiful and spacious one. I also know that if I had to downgrade, I could. If I had to live in a tour bus, a succession of middle-US hotel chains, a trailer park, a 100-year old sixth floor walk up in Harlem, or a tent... I could. And it would all involve the same process... curating the space a little at a time. Finding things to change and things to just be grateful for. Slowly learning to appreciate what works and what doesn't. Cutting costs and splurging in an ebb and flow pattern. And constantly dreaming of the next phase on my path.
This is the fifth move I've helped with since Billy moved out in March. It will be known as the quarantine year of my life and also the time I hauled 5 mattresses over stairs and across parking lots. But there's something I just really love about moving, despite how exhausting it usually is. It's the fresh start/blank canvas thing, combined with the sweaty work of an overhaul, an upgrade. It's a way to denote the phases of your life and the struggles and joys you faced. It's a kind of forced glance at your current self in the mirror, and everything you're holding on to that you don't need, everything you still aspire toward, everything you're proud of already accomplishing... tucked in boxes a swished into new spaces.
Tomorrow, another move.