In my home, wherever that may be, as I change addresses and even cities and countries every so often, I have a tradition, and that is to fill it with objects that have a story to tell. Of course, like any other human being, I can’t shy from the brand new store bought objects, a nice couch is paramount to the life of any good living room, it’s that place where you can throw yourself among friends for a good talk over night or where you find the embrace of your lover to doze off in the middle of watching a movie in a rainy Saturday afternoon. But aside from the couch, the bed and maybe a bookshelf or a chair here and there, most of my belongings will come from flea markets and vintage shops.
In my home I like to incorporate to my books and art on the walls, objects that come from special places, pieces that were inherited from my family and tell part of my own background, as well as items I found while making my own story.
In one of my recent trips to London, while walking down Portobello Road amongst old door knobs, tea cups, rugs, porcelain dogs, boxes full of keys to mysterious doors, beautiful and questionable paintings and the occasional raw fish stand sided by pig ears and a man who carried his dog on his shoulders, I found a weird shaped vase, it was, as a matter of fact, a bottle, and there really wouldn’t be much use for it, especially because its lid was missing, but I fell in love with it, I saw potential in that poor orphaned object, so I bought it.
With the bottle in hand, a feeling of accomplishment washed over me, I had made that entire trip worthwhile, I had just acquired a “token” from Notting Hill, the neighborhood that was the lead character in the movie that goes by the same name and that for years inhabited my subconscious as this magical little village hidden in a corner of London.
On my walk back from the depths of that street fair I observed with less attention to the objects but more focus on the bigger picture; listening to the dialogues of the neighborhood woman complaining about her health to the newspaper man while taking a drag from her cigarette, the little kid strolling around while eating her morning croissant with the importance of a 35 year-old walking to her office, the policemen fighting with the unloading trucks that blocked the roads.
This was part of what made that bottle so special, I pictured in which of those houses it used to live in, where it was originally bought, maybe in a street fair in Morocco or a glass store in Venice? Was it a gift to newlyweds or maybe something passed along from mother to son, to daughter? That walk made me remember what makes my home a home to me, and that is just that, the reunion of all those moments into one place, memories that live in objects that are carefully placed in shelves and corners of my apartments.
The apartment in itself is unimportant, it’s just a box, but what I make with it is what makes all the difference. Most of the objects I add to my home will probably never leave it, they will move with me, from, address to address, adding to their own history and to theirs my own, but what happens after I die? Will I end up in a flea market?
That feeling of abandonment and loneliness came over and for once I put myself in the place of all those objects left to the roadside in London and so many of the flea markets and junk yards around the world, but I quickly had to come back, because that is not my place to be, I will be in a junk yard of my own and that won’t matter, like the objects left behind by previous owners, I will go on to seek solace elsewhere and history will continue to unfold around me, in this never ending tale that is life.
Now, that bottle, remember? The one with no lid bought in Notting Hill? For now it sits next to my television holding a beautiful dried white rose, and I was right, it made perfect sense to buy it and every time I look at it my heart fills up with joy.