Spin the Globe with Justin Butner

A world citizen may provide value to society by using knowledge acquired across cultural contexts.

The Mission: Furnishing an Apartment

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.

One comment on “The Mission: Furnishing an Apartment

  1. 'lena
    March 2, 2013

    “Will taking the time to finish pulling everything together make it a more comforting place?” This is why I bother to make my habitat comfortable/mine no matter where I am. My quality of life is markedly improved when I have a home I consider more than just a roof. For the way I’m wired, nesting matters (even if it’s just tacking up a postcard).

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This entry was posted on March 2, 2013 by in America, Durham.

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