COLUMN : 1 year without a home

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so some of you might know this already, but a exactly a year ago today i moved back to sweden (where i’m from) after living in london for 4 years.

me and my bf lived on a busy street in hipster heaven shoreditch in east london, with constant noise from cars, construction, drunken hipsters, police sirens, and tourists. and it was even more noisy at night than during the day, so i’ve slept with earplugs for 4 years straight. i sort of miss them actually, they made it sound like sleeping near the ocean.

after a few years we gradually started getting more and more tired of london, so we finally decided to leave. and on the 12th of march last year, we got on a plane back to stockholm, without more of a plan than “living in nature for a while” and figuring out what we wanted next. luckily for us our parents have 3 summer houses between them, so we knew we wouldn’t exactly be on the street. hence we embarked on a nomadic experiment, living without a home for the first time in our lives. selling or giving away almost all of our london stuff, this also meant only owning what could fit into a few suitcases.

i feel like i’m starting to get some perspective on this experiment now, and i want to share a few things that i’ve learned :

i need nature / i need the city
coming back to sweden and going straight out into the woods was something like dying of thirst and finally having a drink of clean, cold water. it was actually a bit overwhelming taking in the quiet, the clean air, the smells, the animals, the water. sort of like breathing in pure calmness until you get dizzy. it made me realise exactly how much i’d missed it. i believe it’s impossible to be truly happy without being in a natural place once in a while.
on the other hand, 12 months in, i also realise i just as much need the city. walking down a street can be just as fulfilling as swimming in a lake. life needs pulse, people, and cultural input to feel inspired.
as with everything else in life, balance is key.

less things / more focus
the more things i want, the less i’m focussing on meaning and purpose. i’ve always felt like owning fewer things make for a happier life, but it’s easy to lose your way in this consumerist society. me and my bf now own about as much stuff as can fit into my parents’ tiny car. a bit less probably. some books, a few bags of clothes, some kitchen stuff, our favourite films, two computers, and a camera. that’s about it. this gives me a sense of freedom. like i’m mobile. like i’m not stuck in life, i can do whatever i want. of course, this isn’t practical when you have a home. a few pieces of furniture would be a good idea to own. i think it’s more the mentality of it though. knowing that you’re not collecting meaningless stuff, not hoarding things because you can’t let go. instead focussing on buying and owning only the few things that will truly mean something to you. that will give happiness and comfort, not just momentarily cure that restlessness we feel when we can’t find meaningful pursuits.
this year has taught me the value of living decluttered and decrowded. my brother sometimes tells me: want half as much – live twice as well. i think he’s right.

a nomad / a home
being in-between homes has given us the opportunity to figure out what our next step should be. i feel like we have a pretty good idea of what that step is. it has however also made me realise the importance of a home. of somewhere to put my hat. if i had a hat that is. i’m now craving a home like mad. i’ve developed an addiction to interior design magazines, and i’m spending an unhealthy amount of time daydreaming of how best to fill the cupboards in my future kitchen. it’s just natural i guess, but i feel like there is a risk here. i don’t want to lose my newfound freedom: a life of few things and great mobility. again, it’s all about balance. and i can’t wait for the opportunity to try to find it.

it might sound like this experiment has been a walk in the park, all summery days by the lake, and cozy winter evenings in front of the fire. it has been those things for sure, but it has also been hella rough, let me tell you. over the summer, the well in summer house no1 stopped working, so for a few months we had to carry buckets of water from the lake everyday to wash with, and drive to the closest neighbour to get drinking water. we’ve spent this winter in summer house no2, with emphasis on summer house. it’s become crystal clear that this house was not meant for the cold, harsh swedish winter. the whole year has been and endless repetition of packing – unpacking, packing – unpacking, constantly on the move. it’s been mosquitos, spiders, ticks, and snow storms. it’s been small kitchens and bad showers. it’s been stressful. but even looking back at only the bad times, pulling my hair in frustration, i can’t regret a single minute of it. i now know with much more clarity what i want from life. and i know to appreciate what i do have. so it’s been tough sure, but tough in a way that’s invigorating and inspiring.
i’m ready for the next chapter. i hope you are too.

love // jenny

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  1. Pingback: MINIMALISM : our extreme experiment | 2 years without a home | jenny mustard

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