I remember the first apartment I moved into on my own. It was in the Miracle Mile part of Los Angeles. A pink Art Deco building on the corner of Cloverdale and Sixth Streets. It was a studio, with a large kitchen, a vanity area and a bathroom with a tub and shower. All of my possessions in the world fit into the back of a small bed pick up truck with room to spare. My life was so simple back then. That was in the mid 90s and I was somewhere in my 20s.
Last weekend I began cleaning and organizing the 10×10 foot storage unit I moved most of my personal belongings into over four years ago. These are not the same personal belongings that I moved into my first apartment with. No, I tossed that old futon bed/couch away a long time ago and replaced it with a couch that came from the era of poodle skirts and saddle shoes. That couch became the centerpiece of my décor. Lavender, silk dupioni that I had backed and reupholstered by a professional. By this time, I was living in a rather large one-bedroom apartment in Korea Town on a street with high-rise Deco buildings, and entryways that used to be hosted by concierge back in the day when it was old Los Angeles. Now these apartments are inhabited by young 30 somethings making their way into the world or immigrants and their large families. When I moved from that apartment, I could no longer pack my belonging into the back of a small bed pick up truck. I had to hire professionals with a 17-foot truck to help me move all that I had collected in a decade.
Now that I am leaving the country for 27 months, with no plan on where I will be once my service ends, I no longer feel that it is important for me to keep the things that once made up my home. Nor do I feel that it is very smart to pay for a storage unit when I am going to be making bubkes. My silk dupioni couch, my coffee table whose style was inspired by the Stickley Bothers, or the Asian influenced painting of the bare chested goddess blowing clouds of smoke from her lungs that hung above my bed will all become the adornments of someone else’s home. I’m mostly OK with getting rid of these things, there’s a slight sentiment of sadness. They are my things. They made up a part of me. They were at one time my comfort, my home…big sigh. I’m not getting rid of everything though. I decided to keep the things in the most important room of the house…the kitchen.
The kitchen is where I made magic happen. It is because of the things in my kitchen that friends came over for dinner, that parties took place, that deeper connections were made. Breaking bread with people is the cornerstone to most of my best memories. I love to set a nice table, fold the napkins just right, place the shiny cutlery in order, decorate the table with flowers and candles. I love to languidly lounge over dinner and wine for hours laughing, talking, listening (apparently, they love to do this in Azerbaijan too. Lucky me!).
By the time I leave for Azerbaijan, I will have narrowed down my possessions so much that they will all fit in the back of a small bed pick up truck. I will be able to store some of the boxes in a closet at my mom’s place and the others in the attic at my sister’s house. I will be going to Azerbaijan with two suit cases and a carry on bag that will hold many of the essential things of comfort that I need while I’m living abroad. It’s crazy to think of how hard I worked and how much money I spent to acquire all that stuff only to shed it all and start over again.