Goethe's studio in his Weimar home

Finding a place called home

Two weeks ago I moved to a new place I can call home. It would have not been possible without the help of so many people. Marco took a week off and flew Milan-Amsterdam to come and work, Gonçalo juggled his weekend time to paint some walls, Manon practised her comprehensive skills to whatever task, Elena shared her experience and ideas and came half sick on a sunny day, Daniele and Vanisha listened to so many plans and helped shape them, Gabriele tipped me over Goethe’s colour scheme and spatial planning, Ronald woke up at 5.30 AM to shorten his work day to help so much, Santi had precious techniques and great advice, Wolter saved me from kitchen floor disaster. Arnaud, Henk, Carel, Fred explained financial stuff, Tanja cleared my kitchen, Paul and Jos joined the moving team, my sisters encouraged me, my mum understood and my dad was proud.

Thanks to these beautiful relations a shared way of building my new home came into being.

It is the end of a journey in my old place with its many dinners and barbecues. It is the beginning of a new one for the next place, and I have no clue where it will take me.

Starchitect Renzo Piano says the house is something we all need, it is a universal element. In the English language one has two words for it: house and home. Naturally an architect finds living solutions for houses, but is the search for a home that drives us all.

The global financial crisis started with the subprime scandal, when risky mortgages were sold to practically anyone who could sign, including those who could not pay but were fooled or believed they could. It is a key societal element. It is taken for granted as a basic need and is less celebrated than travelling the world. A wish to travel and to enrichen one’s experience alternates with the desire to settle somewhere nice. I enjoy both experiences.

I had always thought that buying a house is something private, something you do within the intimacy of a love relationship. However, when one moves around, the nuclear family is not the only way to decline such a universal paradigm.

A visit to Goethe’s house in Weimar made that completely clear. He had a room for studying, reflecting and collecting his memories and chose a different colour for every room with the idea that it would create a different feeling. He even devised a scientific theory for it, but Newton’s one became the norm rather than his. I could only wish for so much space and a beautiful garden, but the concept also applies to small apartments.

In the long process of looking for a place called home I discovered a lot about wood and a new passion for painting it. What kept me going was the thought of a warm Sunday indoors with homemade lasagna. My grandmother taught my mother and my mother taught me. I can now make good use of that by inviting friends over.

All these people helped me to take the step that my migrant spirit finally came to terms with. This post (and the lasagna) is for you.

Photo: Goethe’s studio in his Weimar home

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