life in a tiny apartment.

July 5, 2016

glass | reading my tea leaves

Tip #139. Leave. Come home again.

In the leaving of a place and coming back to it, you can finally see it. The silly stuff drops away, and the lovely stuff comes to the front. Upon homecoming I never inspect the peeling paint or the cracks in the ceiling, I’m all googly eyed over my own bed and getting to drink a morning cup of coffee out of my own mug. 

I swear my heartbeat slows when I come back to our house. When I open the door and see the bare walls and the spare furnishings that goodness knows the internet has informed me might seem undone to some people, to me they’re perfect. Breathing room, even in 500 square feet and the most welcome sight after a transatlantic flight.
bed | reading my tea leaves

I’ve been basking in the light of early July sunshine these past few mornings we’ve had back home. We have to wake up early to catch the sunshine in this north-facing attic and I’ll admit that time away always reminds me of the general darkness of our New York City home. It’s not hard to pine for a nest that would allow us to watch the day unfold and the sun move across the sky. But in these glorious morning moments, when the sunshine splatters patches of light that move across the bed frame and over radiators and window sills and illuminates the overgrown window boxes, I feel perfectly pleased with the way this little apartment greets the day. There’s something to love everywhere, if you look for it.window box | reading my tea leaves

As I unpacked our bags from our trip this weekend, I paid attention to what I was unloading and where I was putting it. I’ve been taking our return as an opportunity to reassess the things that I left behind and whether they were occupying useful space in our home. I’ve been trying to tread lightly: No need to dump the contents of my sweater drawer just because I didn’t bring a single sweater with me while traveling. But I looked at the t-shirts that I’d left behind, and toiletries that I took out of my bag before I packed it, and jewelry that didn’t make the cut. pillow cases | reading my tea leaves

In returning you notice what you’re glad to be reunited with. Good practice to pay attention to those things and rethink everything else, I say.

Tiny apartment survival tips #1-138 RIGHT HERE

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  • Reply jane July 5, 2016 at 10:31 am

    love this! so true. enjoy it. 🙂

  • Reply Roopali July 5, 2016 at 11:00 am

    Lovely post. I too come home from being away with a new perspective and appreciation for what I have.

  • Reply chelsea jacobs July 5, 2016 at 3:43 pm

    I adore this. It’s so true!

  • Reply Rach July 5, 2016 at 9:17 pm

    Lovely! You’re so right that we appreciate home so much more after we’ve been away.

  • Reply Heather | Cedar & Bloom July 5, 2016 at 9:49 pm

    Reading about how content you are with your home is a good reminder to me that it is worth chipping away and not giving up on making a space exactly how you like it. We are currently refinishing the living room wood floors of our rental, because I couldn’t stand raising my two, messy little girls on carpet for one second longer. It’s been so much work, but I’m looking forward to experiencing the sort of serenity you convey in your post. Also, the chaotic process of moving everything around has brought more clarity and decisiveness to decluttering!

  • Reply Susan Crane July 5, 2016 at 10:15 pm

    To us our house was not unsentient matter–it had a heart & a soul & eyes to see us with, & approvals & solicitudes & deep sympathies; it was of us, & we were in its confidence, & lived in its grace & in the peace of its benediction. We never came home from an absence that its face did
    not light up & speak out its eloquent welcome–& we could not enter it unmoved.
    – Letter to Joseph Twichell, quoted in Mark Twain: A Biography

    • Reply Alix July 6, 2016 at 7:30 am

      What an awesome quote. Thank you.

    • Reply Genevieve July 6, 2016 at 4:38 pm

      Love this, thanks for posting it.

    • Reply Rita July 6, 2016 at 5:23 pm

      Thank you for sharing! Loved it so much, with all the ups and downs the house I grew up hold up, there was never a time when entering there that we didn’t felt it was not just a space with wall but had a soul of its own.

      Loved the post, Erin!

  • Reply Gareth July 6, 2016 at 1:18 am

    For me going on holiday reminds me of how little I actually need. Travelling by public transport forces me to pack only what I know I will need, and holiday flats/cottages are often sparsely furnished. I return home with a renewed enthusiasm to declutter which, regrettably, doesn’t always last very long!

  • Reply Nikki July 6, 2016 at 12:22 pm

    Loved this! And it’s so true – being away from all of the ‘stuff’ for a while always makes me reconsider how much of it I really do need. Oh, and a good, long crack in the ceiling just adds charm in my opinion. 🙂

  • Reply Susan July 6, 2016 at 2:00 pm

    One of the reasons I love travelling is not only to experience other places and culture, but to gain a renewed appreciation for what I’m lucky enough to have and where I’m lucky enough to live.

  • Reply Pilvi July 7, 2016 at 4:27 pm

    I don’t know if you mentioned it somewhere already – but did you end up renting your aparment out to somebody while you were away? If yes, what was your experience with that?

    • Reply Erin Boyle July 8, 2016 at 7:57 am

      We did! It was awesome!

  • Reply Elizabeth in Paris...for now. July 8, 2016 at 6:11 am

    Hello Erin, What an appropriate post, although we’re in the process of packing up our Parisian apartment to move back to the United States, back home, as it were, to a virtually empty house. Even the initial stages of packing have been a bit overwhelming. The initial list of things we needed to sell included anything with a motor (that means you, curling iron! goodbye coffee grinder! no more home-made ice cream from you, ‘glacier’!), plus large furniture that, while serving a purpose, was not lovable enough to take across an ocean. I’m definitely keeping the things I’ll be “glad to be reunited with” that have special memories for us: Italian ceramic bowls and egg cups, Scotch glasses from Scotland, and a shameful amount of French pharmacy skincare products! It’s mind-boggling to realise just how much stuff we have, and how liberating and freeing it is to let a large percentage of it go. I feel as if I’ll enjoy this freedom for just a short time before we are inundated with the items we put into storage 5 years ago. But, the pressure of being under all those possessions will definitely be motivation for another purge!

    I am sorry I missed you while you were in Paris! I would have loved to treat you and your family to dinner at the best pizza in Paris! I’m glad you had a lovely time away!

    • Reply Erin Boyle July 8, 2016 at 11:55 am

      Thanks so much for your kind note. Wish we had had the chance to spend more time in Paris!

  • Reply Judith July 11, 2016 at 6:52 pm

    My husband of 33 years and I are in the process of moving from our home of 23 years. Our children are your age — probably a bit older. But I want to tell you how much I’ve enjoyed the calm over here whilst everything at home is in chaos. And we do not have a permanent place to land. Not yet. And that is the part I dread the most about this move: not having a place to come “home” to. But for the next few months, “home” will be wherever we are while our stuff will be stored away.

    And though husband and I could never be as minimalist as you are, you have inspired me to pay attention. Thank you!

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