This weekend, I was in NYC and had some extra time to visit a colleague of mine from Yahoo! in Westchester County. It was a visit to most likely the most comfortable, home-y place I've ever been to.
What is 'home'?
You know how each of us has this concept of what is truly "a home" - it is that vision of a place that you can return to and feel safe, secure - a place where you can call your own. It evokes feelings of a place where you grew up, and that there was someone there to take care of you. Even the outside surroundings add to this feeling; when you go outside, you think of fresh air, rejuvenation, a sense of relaxation and even play. Comfort and care are everywhere.
If there ever was a place that would be the optimal "home-like" thing for me, it would be his place.
His house is in a rural part of Westchester County. It is an older house but quite large with many rooms that require some exploring to get to all of them. The decor is varied but somehow planned. It is not cluttered, and everything seems just right. A multitude of windows make the entire house light and warm. The sunlight comes in and joyfully lights up all the rooms.
Outside, the forest approaches but does not crowd the house. There are many areas to run around in and the surroundings are all well-groomed and well-kept. The landscaping is, again, planned and provides something natural for the eye to enjoy. Across the front street, the view settles on a large reservoir. Out back, a nice pool with trees around to give shade provides relief from the day's warmth. Their two dogs have ample room to run around in, and chase the occasional deer that may wander into the yard.
I come in from Manhattan and immediately notice the cooler air, far away from the city's tendency to retain heat. It is fresher and not tainted by the thousands of cars driving around. At night, we jump in the pool and sip Rose, listen to music, and watch the half moon rise into the sky. Thankfully the night is free of bugs but not free of these little frogs which have invaded the pool.
Later, I hop into an enormous bed and immediately fall asleep. It is probably the best sleep I've had in months. Not a sound is heard at night, not even the droning of the central air conditioner. Certainly in my apartment in NYC, there are beeping taxis, jackhammers, and garbage trucks rolling by to wake me up and my sleep is very fitful. Even my place in Cupertino is not like this.
In the morning, I find it hard to open eyes as I just want to sleep all day. But I get up anyways and get some breakfast. The sun is up and shining brightly through all the windows. Around the house, the trees and leaves blow slowly in the wind. I make some breakfast from a very well-stocked refrigerator and kitchen (all the food a home should have, eggs, bread, juice, etc.) and read quietly a book. I don't feel a care in the world as I hang out in his covered porch reading a newspaper and enjoying great conversation with his wife, his daughter, and him.
The Search for Home
When I go on vacation, I sometimes think it should be like this. Vacations are for relaxing and recharging, but yet even at some of the nicest places I've been to, it's not like the relaxation I get from hanging out with my friend at his place.
And then I think about my home and the fact that my travels have almost made it difficult to call one place a home. At times, I am more comfrotable in my small places in NYC and LA than I am in my house in Cupertino. My places in NYC and LA are not cluttered, aren't overloaded with crap, have furniture that I picked out, and are not hard to take care of. My house in Cupertino is post Yahoo! and is really cluttered and I have resisted filling it with furniture since it is way too much space for me anyways. If only the American Airlines Admirals Clubs were home-y...
Staying at his place has now given me new perspective on my search for this elusive "home" concept, and what or how it should be. Before visiting his place, it was very much about not having clutter, how much space was enough, not collecting junk, and a sense of comfortable order. Now there is more about the aura it projects, the feeling it conveys in me, and a myriad of details driving these feelings. I want to research this more and figure what is truly 'home' for me.
It will take a while to find, but I hope to find my "home" in the next few years.