A world citizen may provide value to society by using knowledge acquired across cultural contexts.
March 2, 2013
There are posters leaning against the wall, but nothing is hung. They sit near a dining table surrounded by folding camp chairs. They are in view of the plaid couch that was found on a curb which is in front of the coffee table that was donated by a friend under where a TV would be if we had one.
The apartment is a work in progress. That is to say it certainly isn’t finished. But I’m no longer sure how much further progress will go.
When living with my family there was always a clear setup. They had years and years to establish themselves as people who owned things and worked jobs before I came along. I grew up in houses where rooms had a coherent theme. A couch, a chair, and a TV. A bed, a dresser, and a desk. The only rooms that really weren’t finished were the basements.
Then there was residential college, where the dorms were furnished.
When I moved out, it was into a house with friends who had salaried jobs and had also had similar backgrounds. We needed a couch. We needed beds. We needed bookcases. We were young and could get mismatched used things off of craigslist without any concern. Thus a house was furnished. And cluttered.
Then I sold it all and moved overseas to live out of a backpack. I had four changes of clothes. I had a camera and a computer and a phone, some toiletries, and not much else. If I needed something, I managed with what I had. Generally I revised my definition of need to preference and went without.
I upgraded to a station wagon where I could accumulate more. I got camping gear. I got a decent assortment of food that wouldn’t go bad in a car. I had a box of drinks. And some dressy clothes or costumes if I needed them. It wasn’t much, but it somehow seemed like more than I needed. And I left enough room to spread out and sleep in there.
When that all ended, I found myself back in the states, in my mother’s basement. Back in a house with things. A bed. Central heating. A kitchen that had a stove. A variety of seating options that weren’t the ground. It was a confusing adjustment back into the world of owning things. And I adapted.
Now I find myself in Durham. There is a roommate, a friend I’ve known for years, who agreed to go in on a place with me. He, being a more recent former student, has a younger perspective on setting up a place. I, being a recent itinerant, have a more confused outlook.
I got a bed. Sleeping on the ground outside I call camping. Sleeping on a bed (or couch) I call living indoors. Sleeping on carpet seems to be a confusing middle state that doesn’t click in my head.
And we have attained the furniture which is more important / more convenient / our friends were giving away.
But we live in a half-furnished home. The walls are bare. My things to be put in a desk are in a box where a desk might go. And I don’t spend much time here. Which one is the cause and which is the effect I cannot say. They may feed into each other.
But I need to assess what I want to get out of this place and this living situation. If I make it feel more like a home will it become a place I want to be? Will taking the time to finish pulling everything together make it a more comforting place? Or will it all just be effort put into a project that doesn’t matter?
The answers haven’t come yet. But the time to answer the questions has.