POV: Lived In.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

POV ("point of view") is a series that addresses many of the same themes covered in my Equals Record column: growing up, saying yes to adventure, learning to embrace a quarter-life crisis. Each POV entry will include a photograph and a short reflection based on what’s pictured. While my previous column focused largely on ideas, POV focuses on moments - glimpses, glances, tiny stories


According to everyone who lived there, myself excluded, the home my family inhabited during our eight years in Honolulu was tiny. I was tiny then, too, and to me, it seemed just the right size for a family of four, and a rabbit, and an ear-splitting, rainbow-feathered lovebird. The house had its quirks: a bedroom (mine) so small it might have been a hallway, century-old floors that gave us splinters, locks so old they required skeleton keys to open.

Still, it was home. With our things — and us — inside, it looked like ours. It felt like ours.

A few weeks after we moved in, our landlord stopped by and told us it looked like we’d lived there for years. “He meant to say it’s a mess,” my mom said when he was gone, looking at the mess of seeds that had spilled from the birdcage; the books and magazines and knick-knacks everywhere.

 My dad waved this off. “He meant to say it’s lived-in,” he said.
--

I’ve always noticed when people refer to feeling comfortable in their own skin. It’s something I’ve heard often in the many conversations I’ve had about getting older and growing up. “There’s only one way to feel comfortable in your skin,” someone said to me once. “And it’s to live in it for a while.”

Yesterday, as I was waiting for the bus, moving into a familiar patch of 2pm sunlight on the sidewalk by the curb, I had the thought that after seven on-and-off years, New York City feels small in a way I never expected it could. It feels comfortable, worn-in the way fabric that’s been handled and washed and held close for years feels soft. I don’t feel like a visitor to someone else’s city anymore; I feel at home, like I can sprawl out, like a piece of it is my own. It's surprised me to find that life — and a city big enough to hold the entire world — can feel intimate, or as lived-in as a tiny house on a little green island in the middle of the sea.

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A few nights ago, Jamie and I went downstairs to the restaurant below our apartment for a late dessert. We were dressed for bed, and when I waved to the staff as I walked in, I felt as if I was entering my own kitchen. We looked over the specials before ordering what’s always on the menu: chocolate pudding and apple pie, piled high with cinnamon-slick slivers of Granny Smith. “Neighbor discount,” our server said to us as she slipped us a carton of ice cream to take upstairs. 

Later, when it had been eaten, I brewed a cup of tea, slipped into a pair of moccasins, and walked a few blocks to a friend’s apartment to watch Broad City before calling it a night. As I tramped through the snow, ceramic mug in hand, I felt curiously like I was wandering the hallways in my own home. And though I hadn’t bothered with mittens, or a hat, or a heavy coat, it didn’t matter I had only to look over my shoulder to catch a glimpse of home and the space around it that feels like mine: buildings and storefronts and patches of snowless sidewalk, lights in windows that belong to me.

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You can find my previous POV entries, here. Thank you so much, as always, for reading. Photo via my Instagram.

16 comments:

Britlyn said...

I truly love your writing. This was a great start to my day.

I especially loved the thought of feeling comfortable in your own skin after living in it for a while. So true.

Kathryn said...

This is beautiful. I look forward to feeling that way about a place, feeling like that city/neighbourhood is my own home.

Anonymous said...

A beaut.

burntfeather said...

Such a lovely glimpse into your life/World Shoko :) :)

Camila Faria said...

Shoko, you always rock my world with your beautiful writing. You should write a book. Really. (have you ever thought about that?)

Kathy said...

I have loved seeing how this city has become a home for you.

I've been sitting on a lot of thoughts myself, on home and where to go next - physically and mentally - and how much of my perceptions of home have to do with people I care about. Your words always bring me such quiet illumination.

brayfood said...

beautiful piece!

max said...

ah, so so good!!

Shoko said...

Thank you all so much for such lovely words and for taking the time to read and respond. Makes my day. So lucky to have you all as readers!

Anonymous said...

Love this!

cary said...

you rock, shoko!

Brianna Soloski said...

Love this so much.

Loulou said...

I've mentioned before that I save your POV posts for calm Saturday mornings, reading in bed, with a nice cup of coffee at my side. And your beautiful writing never fails to move me, taking me right where you've described. Today, I especially liked the image of your 2pm sunbeam on the sidewalk. xo

Paw said...

yes, camila is right. a book would be wonderful.

Rachel said...

Good job, this makes me want to move to New York City even though I know I wouldn't be able to handle it for more than a year. =] Hopefully I'll feel this way about a place someday.

Shoko said...

Thank you all so much.

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