Last week, I finally hung pictures and mirrors on the walls in my apartment. It looks way better now, much more like a home. But here’s the thing…I’ve been living in this apartment for nearly two years. And for all that time, the pictures and mirrors were sitting in big boxes in my office. I’ve been walking around them so long that I didn’t even see them anymore.
From this, you may gather that I am not a nester. While I like nice things, and have some nice things, my home is not my priority. I need it to be comfortable and functional, but improving my nest is not where my time, money or energy go.
Instead of buying new sheets, redecorating the living room or having my favorite tattered chair recovered, I travel. I take more vacation than anyone I know who isn’t retired. This year, if all goes as planned, I’ll have traveled on holiday for fourteen weeks. No wonder I don’t have granite countertops in my kitchen, or nice curtains on the windows. I haven’t bought a stick of furniture in years. In fact, last year I sold most of my antiques to fund my travel habit.
One great thing about getting older (there aren’t that many, trust me) is that I am very clear on what matters to me. And I’m willing to sacrifice what doesn’t matter. I know that what I really care about are experience, connection and creativity. Travel, spending time with good friends, reading lots of books and finding time to write are all very important. (I’m talking here about my not-at-work life; I also happen to be fortunate enough to really enjoy my regular work – and to be able to set my own schedule.)
So I’ve chosen to spend my time and money on travel, friends and writing. I drive a used Honda, live in a rental apartment in a not-fashionable area of Washington, DC, and never have people over for dinner because I gave away my dining room table. On the other hand, I have an Amazon Kindle (reading and travel), two Apple laptops (one for work and one for travel), bookcases full of travel and hiking books, and a collection of Hartmann luggage and Eagle Creek rolling duffels. I’ve got so much hiking gear that I outfit my friends when they travel with me. (How many Gore-Tex jackets does one need? Four, apparently. And four pairs of Gore-Tex pants to go with them.)
Every now and then I get a twinge of envy when a friend shops at a store where I can no longer afford to go. (Yes, but how many Gore-Tex jackets does she have?). I really love going to other people’s houses and sitting in their beautiful rooms; beauty is soothing and feeds the spirit. I’ve just chosen to feed a different spirit.