An evolving definition of home

It’s been a really extraordinary week. My parents and brother came in to see me, and we spent the week doing all the things I’ve intended to do since coming here but never gotten around to: wandering through the Duke Gardens, eating at all the restaurants my friends in the area rave about, driving to the little out-of-the-way towns to look at the Revolutionary War-era architecture. In an odd twist, the Duke Chapel and surrounding buildings were built to look like Princeton, which meant that wandering around the center of campus made me feel very much at home.

But one of the reasons for the visit was for my folks to help me make my apartment into more of a home. Having lived in New York for so many years and having moved so many times, my design sense was really based on: 1. Do I absolutely need it? 2. Can I transport it easily? Which meant that I hadn’t even gotten new posters since my sophmore year of college, and in the twelve years since graduation I’ve really only accumulated a bed and a couple of puffy chairs by way of furniture. And the further I get into my thirties, the more I feel this growing sense that this is the point in my life when I should be developing adult tastes and settling into a home and a life, when I should have a home that can welcome other people in and sustain more than just myself.

After a week of really concerted effort, the apartment is completely changed. My mom has a gift for turning any place into a home, and she’s wonderful at drawing out what people really feel and want. I now have quirky, beautiful wall art, bookshelves that have a design sense, an accent table, plants, and family photos going back to the mid-19th century. It all feels like me, even though I never would have done it if left to my own devices, and it makes me eager to get more things (a coffee table, a lamp, glass bottles) to brighten the space even more. It feels like not just a place where I want to spend time, but a place that can welcome in friends and help me reach out to people more.

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