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Home: A Dream Made Real

Joelle Renee Benoliel

“Home is an emotional state, a place in the imagination where feelings of security, belonging, placement, family, protection, memory, and personal history abide. Our dreams and fantasies of home may give us direction and calm our anxieties as we continually look for ways to satisfy our longings for home.”

Thomas Moore, The Re-Enchantment of Everyday Life

From the time I was a small child, deep in my soul resided an anxious searching, a longing for Home. I never quite felt at home in the houses I lived in and dreamed of adulthood, this magical time of life that one is able to establish a home of their own. However, my adulthood started in New York City, a place with severe real estate prices and very small spaces. I lived in 13 different apartments in the stretch of 10 years with 37 different flatmates. This estimate is not an exaggeration. Each space held it’s special elements of home and it’s many difficulties, though with every place I inhabited, the concept of home was rarely in harmony with my transient roommates.  Over the years this desire and the lengths at which I’d go to make a place my home, expanded exponentially.

My last apartment in NYC was the first place that ever really felt like home. It was a wildly overpriced, converted one bedroom that I shared with roommates. Despite the tight quarters I strived to make this place a true space of serenity. Painstakingly, I painted the walls, did the decorating research, carefully chose each piece of furniture, each carpet, each painting and piece of artwork to compliment the space. I even spent years searching for the perfect chandelier and with the assistance of a friend hung it myself. Surrounded by heirlooms, furniture that held the story of the find, books I’d read over and over, dog eared and marked up, tea cups, flowers, kitchen tools for making my favorite foods and always a bottle of Champagne in the fridge for celebrating, I found my dream had come true.  A place that spoke to who I am and what I love.

Feeling settled, my soul began to find rest in a way it never had before. My heart healing from past grievances that laid stagnant, long buried since childhood. In this place I started to discover my “dream home” as Thomas Moore calls it. Elements of my past bubbling up like oil from a sunken ship. The hurts healing and clearing the way with joyful memories to resurface. My life became a whole thing, releasing the past in a way that gave me a new gift of the present. The soil of my life was enriched by the experiences I’d lived, the moments of delight in my life, the chemical components of my various cultures and families that helped to raise me... and it all played out in this place I called Home, a convertible one bedroom in Long Island City.

I cried when I left the apartment that I first called home. Though, I left changed, I left educated in the details of my “Dream Home.” That place in me that feels safe and secure, the items that speak to my nature and reflect my personality. This “Dream Home” will always be changing in me, no matter where I live in the world, I know how to be true to it, how to conjure it and make the dream my reality

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