I can't believe it. I've begun craving domesticity. And not in the ways I would expect. I don't want children. I don't anticipate marriage. I don't want to spend the day cooking. I just -- well, I find myself coveting houses. Apartments with beautiful windows. Big, sprawling gardens. Even those perky little studios atop corner stores.
I can't pinpoint exactly when or how it started, but at some point I realized that I spent as much time staring at the buildings I was passing as I was the road ahead. Every street in San Francisco has at least one interesting facade, whether it is a three-story Victorian with purple trim or a canary yellow apartment complex with neatly trimmed flower boxes. I'd like to attribute this newfound admiration to Kurt Andersen's influence--the host of PRI's Studio 360 focuses a lot on design and architecture, and often curates these amazing radio pieces that somehow capture the sound of buildings.
A more likely explanation is my own (rented) apartment's current mess; the entire building has been covered in green scaffolding since January 1, and the contractors finally started stripping the dry rot off the exterior this week. At any given time of day, there are about 30 Chinese construction workers hammering, stripping wood, and clamoring around (and sometimes in) our apartment. I know this will all benefit me and my housemates in the long run, but that's not my first thought when they begin hammering about bed-level at nine a.m. on a Saturday.
Between that, and the dawning realization that the chances of me ever having enough money to ever own any kind of property in San Francisco are close to nil, this mounting desire for my own place is almost dizzying. It's the weirdest, strongest material want that I've ever had. I don't usually want things. I'd rather get books from the library or movies from a rental store than buy either. I hate shopping. I don't like handbags and almost all of my jewelry I've received as gifts. When it comes to gifts, I'd much rather have an experience; that is, a concert, performance, trip, nice dinner, bike ride, thoughtful card.
And now, seemingly out of nowhere, I want a house. Although I'd settle for a tiny little studio, if it was all my own and I was my own landlady.
Maybe this is what happens when your friends start marrying off, when people your age are managing mortgages and your cousins start having kids. Maybe there's some symbol for adulthood that we are constantly seeking to measure; a yardstick for our own success that is easy to categorize. I recently saw a friend I hadn't seen in four years; in the time that I had used to work abroad, get a job, apply to and get into grad school, he had traveled the world over performing as a musician, met his fiancee, and discovered new career paths. Now he is contemplating how to best marry said fiancee, who is from another country, and he said that many of his friends are buying houses and settling down.
After we had lunch, I came home just as the construction workers were removing my bedroom window. Dust settled on my bedroom floor and I thought longingly of my own place, that hypothetical little corner somewhere in the world where all my passions and desires and ambitions would be, at long last, contained.