Being a Settler§

writer: russell j.t. dyer; posted: December 7, 2009; revised: April 21, 2018; readers in past month: 557

My New Desk
My New Desk

There are two aspects of me regarding my sense of home which have seemed contradictory or confusing to many people, including me. First, I enjoy moving — to a new home and even a new city or country. Most people dread moving. They hate the disruption to their lives. I love it. This alone seems strange to most people. However, the second aspect of me related to this that confuses people less but is contradictory to the first is that I become rattled when my home is disrupted or threatened. I’ve only recently realized this, since the hurricane. I have a inordinately strong need for a stable home environment. I’ve mused about this before on my site. What’s interesting is that this trait would seem to be contradictory to my love of moving. It occurred to me recently, though, that I’m a settler — in the sense of setting up a household or home — and that reconciles the two traits just mentioned.

When I move to a new apartment or a new town, I like the process of creating a new home. Perhaps I like the sense of home so much that I enjoy establishing one. I like the process of deciding on where to move and finding a new apartment or house. I find determining how to organize the new space to be fun. I like deciding on paints, furniture, decorations, etc. I don’t like everything to be new: I like to bring along some of my old items for continuity and for depth of my stories: I like when someone visits my home and picks up an unusal object and asks about it. I can then tell them the story behind how I acquired it. It’s interesting and charming. I like being interesting and charming. This is why I like when people visit me: it’s egotistical, I know. But there I am.

Organizing and decorating a new home is a creative process that takes several yeras. I will look at some space in my home and decide that it needs something — a piece of furniture, shelving, paint, electrical outlets, etc. — and then I will begin planning it out. I’ll consider multiple ideas. I’ll sketch ideas, take measurements. I’ll shop for months, maybe over a year to pull together what I need to make it work just right. For example, look at the photographs of the desk I made and the shelves in the previously dead space to the left of my desk (between two columns along the wall). I’ve been making that end of my living room into a work space for over a year now. It’s almost the way I want to be. That creative process has been pleasurable and I’d like to enjoy it for a while. One day I’ll move to a new place and I will enjoy creating a new work space for myself. It’s an art form.

As for my insecurity about my home, I enjoy my home and gain comfort from it so much that I am overly protective of it. I don’t mind moving. I just don’t like moving before I’m ready to move. A hurricane driving me away or being evicted from my home when I’m not ready for a change are not fun. They are interesting experiences, but not pleasurable. I can let go of my home when my mind has packed itself and has decided on a new home. I have to know I have a home somewhere, even if it’s new and only a vacant apartment.

When I think about the first European settlers in the Americas, the things they had to do to settle on raw land, I envy them. I would have loved such a project. It would have been hard, but I was made for such an enterprise. I’m a natural settler.