"Come in," I call. You're early. I'll pretend I don't mind, even though I'm always running late.
"Wow," you say, and I shrug my shoulders. I know how you feel. This apartment arouses a visceral reaction in everyone. When I first walked in, I squealed, and ran to jump on the couches. No manners.
I know how your first impression will go: you'll notice the high ceilings, with skylights, filtering sunshine throughout the large space. It is the New York warehouse apartment, that all the New York-style warehouse apartments, all over the world, strive to be. A curved wall urges you into the living room, where cream lounges congregate, as big as beds. The coffee table between them is one solid chunk of carrara marble. A convenient tromp l’oeil, that moves easily when needed.
On either side of the stone fireplace sit two symmetrical ‘nooks’; small, cushioned clouds, that are rooms unto themselves. Sitting in a nook brings you eye to eye with the city scape of Manhattan, and demands that you admire the view. I can spend hours reading inside a nook. In the mornings, when I need to think, I creep up onto the terrace and sit by the water tower for a morning cigarette, alone. It takes me back in time; and alongside the overgrown plants, whisks me away to another place outside the New York City that I love. When I need it, the secret terrace offers a chance to escape.
Every piece of the apartment has been lovingly chosen. A bacchanal that grows with each excursion. From Sundays spent in Brooklyn, to road trips through Japan, and summers in the Salzkammergut in Austria. When we host a dinner party, it is always hard to convince people to leave. Minimalism and comfort exist in perfect marriage in this apartment, and all the interesting things invite you to look around, read the books, pick things up and touch them. It's not a museum. You have the feeling you are invited to snoop.
At times I’m drunk on the warm feeling the apartment gives me, despite having no role in its creation. Along the way I’ve lived in an attic in Berlin as an au pair, subletted a room in Cape Town from a guy I met in a bar, stayed in a cold corporate self serviced apartment in Perth, and on many fold out couches in New York. Thriving off no fixed address has meant that I never thought myself able to invest time or money in curating my own space. Buying furniture or art seemed frivolous to me, something that would only weigh me down. I have always revelled in my ability to make do wherever I am, with whatever I have. I derived a sense of peace from knowing I could leave whenever I wanted, rather than creating a space that made me feel home.
Then I fell in love, and it changed everything. The apartment that I live in now, wants for nothing. And I want for nothing in it. Actually, I find it hard to leave. It imbues me with tranquility, and the city outside seems far away. My only worry is, that while I lounge in my nook, and New York City goes on around me, I am somehow being left behind. People are in bars, at lunch, working, running, getting haircuts, making appointments and plans, and I can’t leave this apartment. When before I couldn’t bring myself to stay, anywhere.
Often, I wonder how a wanderer like me ended up here. Its parts are not only aesthetically beautiful, they make sense. And they remind me, happily, of my love. His stories lurk everywhere; his sensitivity in the layout of the furniture, the magazines arranged perfectly on the table. I appreciate these things, and can’t imagine how I could add to them, for fear of disturbing them. Old habits are hard to break.
I went to a bookstore the other day, and saw a collection of Stefan Zweig stories. The cover is orange, and the edition weighs 2 kgs. I’d never seen it before, and I might never find it again, I thought. I flipped through the pages, before putting it down. It was too heavy to transport, it wasn't for me. I almost walked out before I realised that perhaps it was time to come to terms with putting down roots, and becoming a part of the space I love so much. I imagined how I could arrange my books carefully in each nook, letting the colourful spines contrast against the grey city scapes in either window. I imagined how that little arrangement might have me written all over it, and that might be nice. I realised there is nothing to disturb, because the apartment is fluid. It welcomes new stories and ideas, and brings them out of me. To find a place like this, is the true meaning, and feeling, of home.