Jan 29, 2016

Houses, Homes and Life phases - 2

[Continued from Part 1]

Yes, I felt like this till I saw the house of our dreams. (There were quite a few of 'my dream house' over the years we spent real-estate window shopping, which was soon becoming into a bad hobby we had to get rid of, but this place was from both our dreams. Till then, the husband and I hadn't agreed upon a single house/apartment. We both never liked the same stuff). This house was perfect - it was a cozy little place with 3 bedrooms, a balcony that overlooked greenery and nothingness, a kitchen large enough to actually have a small kitchen table for the husband to sit on and eat the Dosas I so enjoyed making, rooms big enough to enable us to have separate work areas... you know, everything a newly married couple looked for, in a house and it was our own. (except that we weren't newly married anymore by then, though life hadnt really changed in that department, but more on that later). We suddenly accumulated a lot more stuff than we imagined we'd have - gadget-wise, and furniture-wise. In hindsight, I don't think I was ready for it, neither was he. It was way too much for people like us, part-nomads.




We were still young, having a good time in our lives, our careers were looking up, and we had even moved into our dream house. Life looked perfect. Except, it didn't feel like it. Ennui had started hitting the both of us, and we were dealing it in our ways, separately (which was perfect, if you ask me. We didn't have to really live by the others' expectations out of life). I realized my thinking had changed, significantly. I no longer wanted to hang out in the pubs, and preferred meaningful friends and conversations over mind-numbing music. I still enjoyed an occasional drink, but hangovers were definitely over for me. I realize now that I was growing up, and my sub-conscious was figuring out what I wanted to do with life. "What next?" was a question I still asked myself, but the next didn't mean the next weekend. It meant larger things like definition of success or how I was spending my time. I attribute all of this to the extra time I got, since we weren't entertaining all that much in this house, and I still had the cook, so most of my time was still mine - to work, to hangout by myself and to think. The husband was traveling a lot on work giving me more-than-required-me-time, and I got a lot more time to do this thinking... checking the status-quo and asking myself all sorts of questions about it. I think I perfected this here, in this house. Vipasana also happened for both of us, and we both had key takeaways. It was like those 10 days were a window to a new world, and we started seeing things in new perspectives, both of us. It obviously helped that we were both speaking the same language, and ennui was common in it. We had to act on it, it glared into our faces too much.

It was also then that I discovered that am an introvert, or an ambivert if you want to be specific. I was definitely good with people, but I enjoyed spending time with myself. I enjoyed the calm mornings, evenings, and noons. I enjoyed alone-lunches, discovered food photography and food blogging, discovered that I have a teeeeny bit of love for gardening. I also enjoyed the work I did at work, and life was looking up, in terms of learning. It was here, in this house that I discovered how important my girlfriends were to me. Hanging out at my new dining table with a bunch of them over hot chocolate had become a norm by then. Friends who visited us in this house, albeit very very few in number, as compared to the numbers of the previous years, enjoyed spending time at this house, and even loved this place.
But for some reason, it was never home to me. I thought I was truly happy, but I know I wasn't. I wanted to be happy, coz everything looked like it should be, but it wasn't, for some reason. I tend to think upon this house as where I was maybe, depressed, but I now know I wasn't. I just never felt it was home. It was very very comfortable, a very pretty house, that's all to me. I was miserable there, because I had no friends in this community, my friends had to travel great distances to meet me, and I couldn't even take a real walk around the place. This, and the fact that my mental clock for any house is set to 2 years meant I was ready to move on. Turns out, the husband was ready to move on too before I was, in this case. I wouldn't really call him a part-nomad, I think I bring that to this relationship, he settles down just a bit more than I do, but this time he was ready too.

Also by then I realized that we've been moving houses every two years, like clockwork, either by choice or by force. It had only happened twice by then, but I knew it was some kind of a pattern by then. We absolutely had to move from this house, except that it made no sense. People are expected to live in their own houses forever, right? Isn't that why they buy own houses, in the first place? To live there forever, settle down, have children, and grow old. Wasn't that what our parents did? Well, it certainly looked like what our friends were all doing by then - having children, settling down and looking for safer options in jobs and investments etc. Some soul-searching showed us that we didn't really want that... any of that, including the children bit. Thankfully, in spite of our separate soul-searching exercise, we both arrived at a similar conclusion - not wanting to settle down, wanting to see what more life can offer and push ourselves to the next limit. And none of this was just work-related. We wanted this for life too. This made the what-should've-been-difficult-decision to sell the house a very simple business decision. It just made a lot of sense that we sold the apartment, and moved on. There was a brief flirtation to buy another new apartment, but we resisted that, thankfully. It also helped that another set of friends S & N had discovered a great apartment for us to live in, in the same community as theirs, which looked brilliant.

We moved, after the oft-repeated-routine of charming the landlady into letting us have the house over another couple who were ready to pay more rent. I gave up all the furniture that I felt was unnecessary, which was most of it. The husband was more than obliging to make do with the bare minimum again, and it helped that the house we moved into was, yet again, almost-fully-yet-semi-furnished. Career had been going well by then, and I had discovered what I wanted to do with my time, and many activities just came in the door, doing nothing also being one of them. I started maintaining a blackboard with a list of all the things am supposed to be doing if I don't know what I am doing, a list so large that it makes me feel good and busy. This is a choice, you see, I could do them if I wanted, or I could do nothing at all and sit on my couch whole day. I had no one to impress, or answer to, and it felt liberating. I don't want to attribute it all to the home, part of it could be also because I realized that growing older is liberating. I realized more and more that I didn't have to abide by anyone else's rules or expectations and my time is and was my own. That is how new hobbies got in the door, some old ones fell off the bandwagon, and the knowledge that these new ones would go too began to feel comforting.


We chose people and activity - people dropping in without a prior-plan, dinners with people which required no planning at all, almost no partying in pubs, weekends of couple-binge-TV-watching, more girlfriends with whom I could still talk about anything - potty jokes, books, boys and men, sociology of customs... any random thing. Yes, this is a subset of what we do in this home of ours. Rather, its like a collection of homes, around here, I feel. One's home extends into another's very easily, yet there is a lot of space in our lives, I feel. Perfect, if you ask me.
At the end of two years in this house, I did a quick check on the mental clock of moving, and felt I needed to. But this time, it wasn't the need to move from the home, but may be to rearrange the furniture a bit. Also, this time, the husband refused to oblige me in the moving mania. He wanted to stay put for a little longer. May be, this is growing and sobering up, but I'll take it anyday, if it means am going to be happy. I also checked if I was in a rut, turns out , am not. There is still a lot to learn, do and act on, both at work and in life... so thats good, no?
The latent real-estate window-shopper residing inside the otherwise-very-calm husband rears its ugly head once in a while, when we go into a frenzy to buy a new apartment, this time in the same community (because, guess what, I cannot bear to be away from all the friends we made here!), but this frenzy has been short-lived till now. I'd like to think about us as people who do not buy stuff any more, you know... people with just enough stuff of everything furniture, books, clothes, etc and excess of nothing. Yet again, am not sure how long and sustained this thought will be, but then, it is all about growing up, no?



As I write this all down, I can see a pattern emerging - we've loved the houses that friends have looked up for us. We loved it when there were friends in the vicinity, and hanging out with them didn't really need effort in either commute or dressing up or planning. We probably also detest planning of any kind, especially if it goes beyond a week. (I will exclude travel planning from this which still needs to be done at least 8 weeks in advance, thanks to both our work schedules and our country's passports), unplanned calm days, me-times, dinners with friends, get-togethers, hanging-outs were the key to make us happy. And we still like to spend time by ourselves, a lot.
We have definitely grown up in what we consider as must-haves in life, which is welcome... it has been changing, and am glad it has. 

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