I live in a home with floors that creak. Early in the morning, late in the evening, soft feet tread throughout the flat, yet the fear of disturbance still prevails. But what can I do? Lean to the right, lean to the left, even still, there will be a high pitched squeak.
What if she wakes up? Try to be quieter. How? It’s not me, it’s the floors. Well, maybe take bigger steps? Already tried, doesn’t work. Okay, step in spots that don’t creak. They ALL creak! Hmm, well, you are lucky she is a deep sleeper.
Distant creaking travels through walls and closed doors. Someone else is awake. The echo of familiar voices in a familiar tongue, but not a word understood. Voices up above, potential screaming, the occasional stomp. Pitter patter of feet. Doors shutting and rain pouring, the dreamy sound carrying me to sleep through an open window.
Ears ringing with silence or overwhelmed with noise. Can my upstairs neighbors hear me singing? Lights that are too bright, or aren’t bright enough. Except at dawn, when the glow of a little green lamp provides just enough. Cabinets and cupboards that have seen better days. Enough counter space to chop an onion. A fridge one might call “mini.”
White walls, white windows, white curtains. Not a single matching light fixture. Pink and black bathroom tiles, no living room. Itty bitty kitchen, doors without locks, no modern glam whatsoever. This is where I live.
And surprisingly, I’ve grown to really like it.
In Texas, I lived in quarters I thought were tight, but are spacious compared to where I reside now. I used to dream of what it would be like to live in a large home. A home that sparkled from the inside out and had all the modern, expensive finishes. A place one could practically get lost in. Or at least one where I had my own room.
But I’ve discovered how much I don’t care about these things and am amazed at how content I am in this space. Maybe it’s because I know it’s temporary. Maybe it’s because I live in a beautiful country and city. Maybe it’s because this is my only option. Maybe it’s because I’m young.
I could dismiss these feelings of contentment for reasons that are more superficial, but I like to believe it’s because I see how little a big beautiful home is actually worth. I love the feeling of stepping into a house the size of a hotel. I love exploring homes that look like an art gallery threw up in them. I quite enjoy gawking at the curb appeal of modern homes. But while it’s nice to have, won’t that feeling fade? Wouldn’t it grow old?
I like the the feeling of making new friends more. I prefer walking the streets of Ljubljana to the halls of a house. I’d rather gawk at old buildings and mountains than marbled counter tops and walk in closets. All that I’ve been experiencing here is worth more than the temporary satisfaction of a pretty house.
What if I had it all? Content? You bet. But fulfilled? Not even close. I might even feel ridiculous when comparing my lavish home and all its superfluous features to someone who doesn’t even have a proper place to lay their head. It’s true that living in the first world causes us to compare what we have to what others have. We always want more. I find this to be especially true coming from such a wealthy suburb. Growing up it seemed as though most of my peers had more than I did. Their own cars, the newest iPhones, all the Lululemon clothing one could imagine, and a huge home. But when I would take a step back and look at the rest of the world, or even the next town over, I came to realize how much I truly had.
(This is actually a psychological phenomenon called “relative deprivation”)
For a while, I thought having a nicer place to live would solve everything. It was a very subconscious thought, as I am just now realizing how true it was. Living in a run-down, small, and outdated home here in Slovenia has really changed my perspective when it comes to the place I live.
Home sweet home. What makes a home sweet? I’ve found that the people who fill your home (whether roommates or guests), the place your home is located, and it’s ability to simply function matter infinitely more than the flooring, decor, light fixtures, and square feet/meters.