"Can you imagine who you'll be in five years?" she asked.
"What an incredible question. Let me show you," he answered.
Last year, the Baltimore Museum of Art opened an exhibit called Imagining Home. The experience is everything I always hope art to be: interactive, beautiful, surprising, and uncomfortable. As someone that has reimagined and reworked my definition of home over the past few years, this exhibit designated with a depth I had not anticipated.
At the end of the exhibit, there was a table with stacks of postcards and blank labels. Above the table stood directions to answer questions about your definition of "home" on the postcards. Your card should then to be slipped into a box. You could also write an address on the blank label and release that into another box. The museum staff would then randomly match each postcard with an address label and mail them away into the universe.
About a month later, this experience more of a shadow than a bright light in my memory, I received this. A modest haiku, written by the hand of a stranger, made its way into my one-bedroom apartment on Saint Paul Street. I loved everything about this home. It had a surprisingly personal history I only discovered after moving in, and it quickly became a character in my life. In the two years I lived there I traveled a lot and came to discover that while I loved the rush of traveling there was no place I would rather return to than Baltimore.
This is one the most important truths I have come to learn about myself as an adult.
I decided to make true my commitment to Baltimore and buy a house here. While looking at houses and trying to find my right match, I uncovered that I was wildly attracted to three story houses (read: homes way too large for one woman and cat). This attraction brought to the surface a wild notion I had nurtured years before of having a "reflection home–" a place people could come to gather, retreat, recharge, eat, laugh, and love.
A place we could be ourselves, together.
My search soon took me to the edge of East Baltimore and into a home that made my heart ache. I was seduced by the large, open staircase that winds through the middle of all three stories of this home. I was enchanted by the transition and grit of the neighborhood. I was in love with the energy that lives in the walls of this 1920's Baltimore rowhome. Knowing this was the one, I purchased this home, welcoming my first guests in two weeks later. Though not exactly the reflection home I had imagined just yet, over a dozen people for all over the world have rested, eaten, uncovered, laughed, and loved in my home.
For many years I thought that I would build a life around the philosophy of "small house, big suitcase." The restlessness. The travel. The excitement and the unknown (!)– I could have sworn it would be all I ever needed in this life. But strangely, this settled life is gripping me tightly. The roots, the stability, the time spent building a foundation just feels so smooth and easy all of a sudden. The space to wake up and ask myself the questions that are hard to answer– this life feels pretty good to stand in the middle of and own.
I didn't know it would. But it does. And I like it.
So as life has a way of doing, my philosophy is slowly shifting to meet my new self-discovery and budding life in a beautiful space of truth, honesty, and authenticity. Slowing down seems to suit me. In practicing this, I invite you, travelers, to come to me. If you find yourself in Baltimore or would just like to come visit, Hemingway and I are excited for everyone we love to help us make this house home.
We have time, safety, and sunlight waiting for you in Baltimore. I can't wait to see you soon.